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Gen. Joseph Votel was in Kabul during suicide bombing, CENTCOM confirms

Deadly suicide blast

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of the United States Central Command, was in Kabul Saturday during a deadly suicide bombing in Afghanistan's capital, CENTCOM confirmed to CBS News.

"The general was in Kabul, for regular scheduled meetings," CENTCOM Public Affairs Director Colonel John J. Thomas told CBS News in an email. "It was a large explosion that did not escape the attention of any of our people in Kabul."

CBS News' David Martin reports Votel was at the Afghan Defense Ministry -- less than approximately two miles from the location of the explosion near Abdul Haq Square.

The death toll in the attack stood at 95 Saturday, and 158 people were wounded, according to Wahidullah Majroh, a spokesman for the Afghan Public Health Ministry. It was was the deadliest insurgent attack in Afghanistan so far this year and came just one week after Taliban militants attacked in international hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people.

"The general was never threatened and was not adversely affected by the explosion," Thomas said. "We do express our condolences to those who were directly affected."

The attacker used an ambulance to get through a security checkpoint, said Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, the Associated Press reported. The attacker then detonated his explosives at a second check point, Rahimi said.

The blast was so powerful it shook buildings miles away and caused extensive damage to nearby buildings and shops, CBS News' Ahmad Mukhtar reports. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.