U.S. denies cover-up of Qalat attack that killed diplomat

April 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM

QALAT, Afghanistan, April 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department denies accusations it misrepresented details surrounding the death of a diplomat in southern Afghanistan.

Anne Smedinghoff was killed by a suicide bomber on Saturday along with three U.S. soldiers, a U.S. civilian and three Afghans in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province,

Statements released at the time of the attack said Smedinghoff had been in an armored vehicle traveling with the provincial governor to a book donation at a local school when the suicide bomber rammed a vehicle filled with explosives into the armored vehicle.

However, it was later reported that Smedinghoff was walking to the school with a group of journalists when the attack occurred. The car bomb was detonated as the governor's convoy drove past Smedinghoff.

Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy press spokesman for the State Department, said initial reports by Afghan television and news websites about the attack may have misled diplomats in other Afghan cities, The Guardian reported Thursday.

"I think part of the initial confusion came about because there were reports in the media about the local governor and his convoy," Ventrell said. "Some of our initial reporting also indicated that, and that's why we weren't able to clarify right away. So our initial read on it was different, and we're now able to say that it was a convoy and they were walking."

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