A massive suicide car bomb struck a convoy of US military vehicles in Kabul on Friday, killing at least 10 people, including two American soldiers, and wounding 17 others, officials and witnesses said.
The blast, which took place near the US embassy in the Afghan capital, tore a military vehicle into two burning chunks and scattered debris and body parts over a 50 meter radius.
Two American soldiers in the vehicle were among the dead and two more were wounded, said US military spokeswoman Lt Tamara Lawrence.
Interior Ministry spokesman Yousef Stanezai said eight Afghan civilians were killed and 15 wounded. He said the attacker also died.
The blast shattered windows throughout the downtown area where the blast took place and sent a plume of brown smoke spiralling into the sky.
Witness Najibullah Faizi, 25, said he saw a blue Toyota Corolla driven by a young, heavily set man speed past another car on the inside lane before ramming one of two US Humvees in a convoy.
"I fell to the ground after the blast. American soldiers started shooting at another car nearby. There was smoke and flames everywhere," Faizi told reporters.
An agency reporter at the scene saw the bodies of two coalition soldiers lying meters from the vehicle.
US troops stood guard around the bodies, one of which was slumped in the gutter, the other covered by a plastic sheet.
Among the dead was an elderly woman who was sitting with her granddaughter in a small yard outside a Soviet-era apartment building, all the windows of which were smashed by the force of the blast.
"My mother just went to the park for some fresh air with my daughter when the explosion happened," said the woman's son, Farid Wahidi, 40. "Shrapnel hit her in the chest and killed her."
The attack came days ahead of the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, which sparked the American-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled its former Taliban regime for harbouring Al-Qaeda terror network chief Osama bin Laden, who was blamed for masterminding the attacks.
It also comes amid the deadliest spate of violence in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster, in which hundreds have been killed each month this year.