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Taliban fire on Afghan officials at attack site

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The two Afghan army personnel who were wounded included a soldier and a military prosecutor, he said. Qayum Karzai sought to play down the ambush.

He said the delegation, which also included Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa and Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Asadullah Khalid, had been giving their condolences to the victims' families.

They then heard "two very, very light shots." "Then we assumed it was the national army that started to fire in the air," said Karzai.

ine of the 16 civilians killed on Sunday in Balandi and Alkozai villages were children and three were women, according to the Afghan president. Some of their bodies were burnt after they were killed.

The U.S. has an Army staff sergeant in custody who is suspected of carrying out Sunday's pre-dawn killings but has not released his name. Villagers have described him stalking from house to house in the middle of the night, opening fire on sleeping families and then burning some of the dead bodies.

Witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press after the attack described only one shooter, and U.S. officials have been adamant that there was only one soldier involved.

On Tuesday, villagers who testified to the delegation insisted there were two soldiers, citing relatives who survived the attacks. Mohammad Wazir, who was away from his home in Balandi village that night, said his sister saw two U.S. soldiers enter the house and start shooting.

Everyone started running different directions, and she ran to the kitchen to hide.

When the gunfire ended and she re-emerged, 11 of her relatives were dead.

In Alkozai to the south, a man named Sayed Jan said his cousins told him that they saw two soldiers come into his house and start firing. Jan's relatives barricaded their door and snuck out another exit. Jan was away in Kandahar city that night.

The villages are about 40 miles southwest of Kandahar city. The villagers' anger was evident in discussions with the visiting officials before the attack cut the visit short.

"Today, the Kandahar governor was trying to explain to the villagers that he was only one soldier, that he was not a sane person and that he was sick," said Abdul Rahim Ayubi, a Kandahar lawmaker who was part of the delegation. "But the people were just shouting and they were very angry. They didn't listen to the governor. They accused him of defending the Americans instead of defending the Kandahari people," Ayubi said.

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