U.S. soldiers carried a body at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul on Tuesday.
A man driving a Toyota minivan laden with explosives steered into an American convoy on Tuesday morning and set off his payload, killing at least 10 people, including 5 Americans, and wounding 47 more, nearly all of them civilians caught in rush-hour traffic in the Afghan capital.

The blast scattered body parts for 200 feet, as the wounded, many of them women and children, some without limbs, lay in the road moaning for help.

In a passenger bus, an Afghan woman lay dead in her seat, cut in half, with her squirming baby still in her arms. Fifty yards away, a man’s head lay on the hood of a truck.

“I just dove on the ground to try to save myself,” said Mafouz Mahmoodi, an Afghan police officer. “And then I got up, and I saw the terrible scene.”

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack in a posting on its Website, saying the group had dispatched a young man named Nizamuddin, a resident of Kabul. The Taliban said that Nizamuddin carried 1,500 pounds of explosives in his van.

It seemed likely that the bomber had cruised the city for some time searching for a target.

It was the worst such attack in Kabul in many weeks. The insurgency is a largely rural phenomenon in a largely rural country, and on most days the capital is quiet. Tuesday morning, it was not.

The attack came shortly before President Hamid Karzai prepared to speak to the press. Mr. Karzai had just returned from meeting with President Obama in Washington. The Karzai government is preparing, with the Americans and their NATO allies, to launch a major offensive around the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual home.

A fireball went up after the attack as cars and trucks burned. Body parts and pieces of metal were scattered along the road, and the driver of a minibus was seen slumped dead at the wheel of his vehicle.

Two United States military helicopters arrived quickly at the scene and took away the American casualties. A large unit of American troops also arrived and sealed off the site.

“I got to the scene right afterward, and people were calling, ‘Help me, help me,’” said an ambulance driver, Yusef Tahiri, who evacuated six dead and two wounded. “There were body parts everywhere.”‘

He said an Afghan soldier approached him with a large red trash bag and said, “This is a bag of brains. What do you want me to do with this? Do you want me to bury it or do you want to take it?”

Abdul Hafiz, a guard at a nearby veterinary hospital, saw the explosion and ran into the street. “It was very dangerous,” he said. “It was very horrible.”

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