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Death toll in Afghanistan massacre climbs to 17

Two senior U.S. defense officials confirmed Thursday that 17 Afghan civilians were killed in the shooting in Panjwei on March 11.

Thursday morning, Gen. John Allen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 16 civilians were killed, but now defense officials put the number at 17.

Why the discrepancy?

How Staff Sgt. Bales' lawyers are fighting for his life

One senior U.S. defense official said one of the injured has died in the past few days, but the other senior U.S. defense official believed the U.S. military has evidence there was a 17th body at the scene.

Either way, the death toll is now at 17.

One of the senior defense officials said that at least one of the injured remains in very serious condition.

The village killings sparked violent protests in Afghanistan, endangered relations between the two countries and threatened to upend American policy over the decade-old war. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the case.

Msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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