A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the privately run Pajhwok Afghan News Agency. Ahmadi's exact ties to the Taliban leadership are unclear.
The morning blast spewed body parts and pieces of U.S. military uniforms across a major road and into trees that were set ablaze by the explosion — part of the worst spate of violence in Afghanistan since the collapse of the hard-line Islamic regime.
The attack shattered what had been a typically peaceful Muslim sabbath in the war-ravaged capital and revealed the lingering vulnerability of foreign troops, local forces and Afghan civilians to terrorist attacks almost five years after a pro-American government was installed. Attacks in central Kabul have been rare in comparison to areas on the edge of the city and in the country's south.
Some 20,000 NATO soldiers and a similar number of U.S. forces are trying to crush the emboldened Taliban insurgency, mainly in southern Afghanistan. Taliban holdouts have been turning to Iraqi-style tactics — including increasing numbers of suicide bombings — to try derail the government of President Hamid Karzai.
In a statement, the Afghan president said "today's heinous act of terrorism is against the values of Islam and humanity."
The attack in Kabul took place as many Afghans were commemorating the assassination of anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massood, who was killed in an al Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Reporter Tom Coghlan told CBS News what he saw outside the embassy after the blast. "I'm looking at a scene of considerable devastation. What appears to be an American Humvee is in a lot of pieces. A large number of tree branches splattered across the road, they've been blown off. There are parts of several vehicles involved here. There are also body parts on the road, lots of body parts," Coghlan said.