'Loud boom'

 

Cheney told journalists travelling with him out of Afghanistan on a military plane to Oman: "At 10am I heard a loud boom. They moved me for a relatively brief period of time to one of the bomb shelters nearby.

 

"We have reports of one US soldier having been killed"

Senior Master Sergeant Richard Simonsen, Bagram media office
"As the situation settled down and they got a better sense in terms of what was going on, then I went back to my room until it was time to leave.

 

"They [the Taliban] clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government. Striking at Bagram with a suicide bomber I suppose is one way to do that."

 

'Direct attack'

 
Senior Master Sergeant Richard Simonsen in the Bagram media office told Agence France-Presse: "We have reports of one US soldier having been killed."
 
South Korea's defence ministry said a South Korean soldier was among those killed.
 
Sergeant Yoon Jang-ho was on guard duty outside the main gate to the base and was killed in the suicide blast, a ministry official said.
 

Al Jazeera's correspondent at Bagram air base, Wali Allah Shahin, said witnesses saw the bomber on board one of the lorries carrying petrol into the base.

 

Shahin said journalists were being prevented from entering the base and the families of the victims had gathered in front of Bagram air base.

 

Qari Yusif Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban movement, told Al Jazeera in a phone call that Abd al-Rahim, the attacker, was from Logar province, southern Kabul.

 

The attack was targeting Cheney, Ahmadi said.

 

Kabul talks

 
Cheney stayed at the base overnight after planned talks with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, were delayed by weather.
 
Later on Tuesday, the vice-president arrived in Kabul to meet Karzai.
 

Cheney's visit comes as Washington warned that al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies were regrouping on Pakistan and Afghan soil.

 

The US has about 27,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, where it says defeating the Taliban is vital for its own security.

 

Last year was the bloodiest since the US-led forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 for refusing to surrender Osama bin Laden in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

 

Bolstered by money from record opium crops and safe havens in Pakistan, the Taliban have vowed a major offensive - including a dramatic increase in suicide attacks - in spring after the snows melt in coming weeks.

 

In Pakistan, Cheney pressed Pervez Musharraf, the president, to do more about the Taliban and other armed groups using its territory for shelter and training.

  

About 4,000 people were killed in fighting last year in the bloodiest period since the Taliban government was ousted in 2001.