Eight people were killed in the District during the weekend, pushing the number of homicides this year to 17 more than at this time last year and confirming police officials' worst fear that the slowdown in homicides earlier this year was an aberration.

Most of this year's record number of homicides have the same elements as last year's killings: guns and drugs.

But police officials were at a loss yesterday to explain the reason behind the increase. One theory is that there is simply more firepower in the city than ever before.

"There are just more guns on the streets," said Capt. Alfred Broadbent, who heads the D.C. homicide squad.

"The firepower on the street is greater than before."

As in the past two years, about 55 to 60 percent of the District's 262 homicides this year have been connected to the illegal drug trade, said Lt. Reginald L. Smith, a police spokesman.

Police classify a homicide as drug-related if the victim or suspect was using, buying or selling drugs.

The rise in killings is in sharp contrast with the first four months of the year, when the District's homicide rate declined significantly from 1989 levels.

As of May 1, there were 13 fewer homicides than at the same time the previous year.

Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr., who is on vacation, could not be reached yesterday.

But in May Fulwood remained cautious about the slowdown, warning that a few bad weekends could send the homicide tally soaring.

The weekend violence started Friday shortly after 11 p.m. in the 800 block of Seventh Street NE. Police found Nathan Canada, 36, of the 500 block of Sixth Street, shot several times.

Canada died later in D.C. General Hospital. Detectives have no suspect or motive.

About midnight Friday, police found Cory Nelson, 19, of the 4400 block of Lyons Street in Temple Hills, shot several times.

Nelson was pronounced dead about an hour later at Washington Hospital Center.

Police have no suspect or motive.

On Saturday, Curtis Pugh, 32, of the 1300 block of Girard Street NW, was shot at New Jersey Avenue and I Street NW about 10 p.m.

He died at 3:04 a.m. at Howard University Hospital. Police have no suspect or motive.

Another shooting a few hours later in the 1500 block of Ogden Street NW killed one man and injured two as they came out of a building, according to police spokesman Walt Ferguson.

An unidentified man was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he died.

Police officials said yesterday they believe that shooting was drug-related.

On Sunday, two unidentified men were stabbed about 7 p.m. during a fight at Dupont Circle.

One of the victims, a man in his fifties, was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he died about two hours later.

The second victim was admitted to the same hospital in satisfactory condition.

Police arrested John A. Lamn, of the 1400 block of N Street NW, at the scene and charged him with second-degree murder while armed.

Police were called about 7:45 p.m. Sunday to the 1200 block of Brentwood Road NE, where two women had been fighting.

Charmel Williams, 23, was stabbed near her home in that same block.

She was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where she died about 45 minutes later.

Police arrested Roynita C. Jefferson, 18, of the 2300 block of Brentwood Road NE, shortly after the incident and charged her with second-degree murder while armed.

Shortly before midnight, Dexter Fields, 19, of the 1400 block of Bangor Street SE, was shot several times.

Fields was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where he died.

About 4 a.m., members of the police Emergency Response Team burst into an apartment on Bangor Street and arrested a Southeast juvenile who had barricaded himself inside.

The juvenile was charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Fields's death.

Police said they believe the homicide was drug-related.

Shortly after midnight, an unidentified man believed to be in his thirties was found at 14th Place and Aspen Street NW.

The man, who had been stabbed, died at 1 a.m. yesterday at Washington Hospital Center.