U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing Afghan civilians including women and children in a shooting rampage in Kandahar province last week, will be charged with 17 counts of murder, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Earlier accounts of the incident, which has damaged U.S.-Afghan relations, had tallied 16 victims, including nine children and three women.

Bales, 38, a four-tour combat veteran, is being held at military detention centre in Leavenworth, Kansas.

His civilian defence attorney, Seattle-based John Henry Browne, was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, Browne said U.S. authorities had no proof of what occurred on the evening in question, and said Bales had no memory of the incident.

(Reporting By David Alexander and Bill Rigby; editing by Todd Eastham)