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In the first deadly confrontation between U.S. troops and Haitians, Marines on evening patrol killed nine armed men outside a police station Saturday night.

The sharp, quick firefight was followed by a long siege outside the station, as the Marines tried to coax out of the police station two men believed to be policemen who were wounded in the firefight.It wasn't clear whether the eight men killed were police. Many civilian "attaches" work alongside Haitian police, who are part of the army.

One Marine, a Haitian who serves as an interpreter, was wounded in the leg. The injury was not considered serious.

Lt. Col. Steve Hartley, the battalion commander who arrived minutes after the firefight, said the platoon from Echo Company had stopped across the street from the station.

When armed men came out of the station, "words were exchanged, and there was gunfire," Hartley said.

Cpl. Mike Arnett, a platoon member, said armed men came out of the police station and opened fire.

"Four guys came out from the front desk, saw us and got spooked and lit up their weapons," he said. "And we returned fire."

Eight Haitians were killed. Their bodies remained on the street late Saturday night. In Port-au-Prince, U.S. military spokesman Col. Barry Willey said nine Haitians in all were killed in the firefight, which he said the Haitians started.

After the firefight, Marine interpreters and Haitian policemen in the station shouted back and forth in the darkness.

"Tell them they must come out. Tell them that's the only way they are going to live," a Marine officer shouted.

"They won't come out, and I'm not going to go in and try to get them in the dark," Hartley radioed back to headquarters.

After tense moments, five other men came out of the station, leaving the two wounded men inside. The five were ordered to lie down and were searched by cautious Marines who removed the prisoners' shoes.

Marines had been patrolling the area around the police station throughout the day, exchanging curt "bonjours" with the Haitian police there. The shooting occurred about 7 p.m., as dusk fell.

A quick reaction force, including an armored personnel carrier, immediately responded, sealing off the northwest section of this city of 75,000 on Haiti's northern coast.

Civilians ran from the shooting, locking themselves behind shuttered doors and windows.

Some 19,00 Marines arrived Tuesday in Cap-Haitien on the northern coast to provide security for the U.S-brokered return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.There had been no incidents between Marines and local authorities before Saturday's deadly clash.

In the capital Port-au-Prince, emboldened Haitians danced through the streets in the biggest pro-democracy demonstration since Aristide was toppled by the army three years ago.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators marching by the capital's army headquarters, and other protesters stoned police headquarters before being chased away.

U.S. forces didn't intervene in the clashes because they didn't see them, an American military spokesman said.

The demonstrations by thousands of people, unseen since the popular priest was overthrown and exiled in September 1991, reflected the swiftly shifting balance of power. Demonstrators defiantly ignored a ban on such rallies issued Wednesday by Haiti's army-backed government.

Demonstrators chanted and waved signs reading: "We Want Aristide," "Disarm the Death Squads," and "(army chief Raoul) Cedras Has to Leave."