KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — In a time of war and corruption, when one hand grips a gun and the other opens to be greased, even the happiest of occasions can turn deadly.
On Sunday, after a wedding convoy in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz left the bride’s house for the groom’s, it was stopped at a checkpoint near a busy picnic spot. Afghan forces, the wedding participants said, asked for money — not an unusual request of newlyweds here.
In this case, the wedding party tried to bargain. The soldiers made clear it was a demand, witnesses said. Then came violence: One of the soldiers opened fire, killing two people — Mohammed Yonus, 14, and Rahimullah, 27.
Hamidullah Langar, a cousin of the groom, said the soldiers had asked for 1,000 afghanis, roughly $15. Mr. Langar handed them 200, about $3 — roughly half a day’s wages. They would not accept.
Then, one of the motorcycles that was behind the newlyweds’ vehicle drove past the soldiers. The two young men riding on it were shot dead.
“They fired because convoy members tried to pass before the wedding people had cleared the payment issue,” Mr. Langar said.
Details of the episode were confirmed by several family members, as well as local elders. Afghan officials, however, denied that there had been a disagreement over a payment.
They said that the soldiers at the checkpoint were on high alert — Afghan forces have been dying in record numbers — and that they had fired at the passing motorcycle out of nervousness.
“There was nothing about money here,” said Halim Shah, the commander of the armed forces unit in Dasht-e-Abdan, where the shooting happened. The motorcycle driver refused orders to stop, he said.
“There was a misunderstanding, and our boys fired by mistake, and two of our countrymen who were part of the wedding convoy were killed,” Mr. Shah said.
He said the soldier who had opened fire had been detained. A protest by villagers who blocked the main road on Monday was dispersed after officials assured them that the soldier would be prosecuted.
The fatal shooting came at a moment of high pressure for Afghan forces. On Monday, at least 25 members of the country’s security forces were killed in Taliban attacks in different parts of the country, officials said.
The bloodiest episode happened in the Bala Murghab District, in Badghis Province in the country’s west, where 15 soldiers were killed, according to Abdul Aziz Beg, the head of the provincial council.
In Sar-i-Pul Province, in the north, the Taliban attacked a security outpost in the Sozma Qala District, killing five soldiers, wounding two and taking six others hostage, according to Khairullah, a local police commander.
The Taliban also suffered casualties in the two attacks, officials said, without providing details. Much of the Afghan response relies on airstrikes, and the Afghan Defense Ministry said its forces had carried out six of them.
The ministry put the number of Taliban killed on Monday at 36, though it is known to exaggerate enemy casualties.
Mr. Beg, in Badghis, warned that the Taliban threatened to overrun the Bala Murghab District if reinforcements did not arrive.
“No one is paying attention to the situation here,” Mr. Beg said. “There could be a big disaster in the district if the government keeps ignoring the ongoing situation.”
American efforts to reach a deal with the Taliban have been gaining momentum, but officials expect this year’s fighting season to be especially bloody as both sides try to use battlefield gains as leverage in the negotiations.
Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan’s defense minister, said last week that intelligence reports showed that the Taliban were preparing for war “with all their force this season.”
Before the wedding in Kunduz turned to mourning, the ceremony had the usual jubilation. Adding to the joy was the spring picnic season in the area, where families take to the vast Abdan desert, which turns lush with greenery and roses.
The groom, Abdul Halim, is a laborer who loads and unloads cement from trucks coming from Tajikistan, said his cousin, Mr. Langar. For the wedding, he had prepared food for about 1,000 guests.
When the ceremony at the bride’s home was over and the groom picked up his bride, the party of dozens of vehicles and motorcycles decided to take a detour through the lush desert to celebrate further. The convoy played music, sang, cheered and even stopped to break into dance.
Then came the encounter with the guards at the checkpoint.
“Our happiness was turned into blood,” Mr. Langar said.