GUATEMALA CITY, DEC. 7 -- The Guatemalan army has agreed to withdraw soldiers from a military base in an Indian village where troops opened fire on a crowd of protesters last weekend, killing more than a dozen persons.

The defense minister apologized Thursday for the incident and said two soldiers had been arrested in connection with the killings.

Thirteen Indians were shot to death and 17 wounded last Saturday when troops fired on about 5,000 villagers in Santiago de Atitlan who had marched to the adjacent army base to protest alleged shootings by four drunken soldiers earlier that evening, according to accounts by residents.

Residents of the village, a popular tourist site near volcanoes on the banks of an idyllic lake 45 miles west of Guatemala City, said in interviews that troops had committed abuses, including killings and kidnappings, since the base was put here 11 years ago.

"Before, we wouldn't have dared to say these things, but we can't take it anymore. We have to speak out now," said a resident.

At one of the funerals earlier this week, a large crowd cheered when villager Bartolome Tacaxoy said: "The soldiers should be removed. Instead of peace they've brought violence."

On Thursday, the defense minister, Gen. Juan Leonel Bolanos Chavez, announced that the soldiers at the base would be moved to another location by the beginning of the year and said he had ordered a thorough investigation of the incident. He also announced the arrests of Lt. Jose Antonio Ortiz Rodriguez, the base commander, and Sgt. Maj. Efrain Garcia Gonzalez, saying they were responsible for the killings. A military court would determine specific charges against them, the general said.

"The armed institution is profoundly sorry for what happened in Santiago de Atitlan," Bolanos said. But he added that the 50,000-man army "should not be condemned because of the irresponsible attitude of two of its members."

The base at Santiago de Atitlan was set up in the late 1970s when the military-led government of Maj. Gen. Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia intensified a campaign against leftist insurgents. That period was considered by many to be one of the most brutal in a country widely seen as having the most stained human rights record in the hemisphere. About 40,000 people have been killed in the last 10 years of a 30-year-old civil war.

"People are using this {incident} to express what they feel about the army," said Edmond Mulet, a member of the National Congress, which unanimously approved a resolution calling for an investigation, a trial, removal of the base and financial compensation for the wounded and the family members of the dead.

About 15,000 people from around Santiago either signed or left their thumb prints on a petition demanding justice that was delivered Monday to Bolanos and Vice President Roberto Carpio Nicolle. Carpio and Jorge Serrano Elias, the two candidates in a Jan. 6 runoff presidential election, have denounced the killings.

According to the accounts of residents, the villagers set out for the base Saturday behind Mayor Delfino Rodas Tobias and carrying a white flag. Villagers said they had gone to complain that four drunken soldiers dressed in civilian clothes had shot and wounded one man, tried to abduct another and fired shots at a house.

When the villagers reached the base entrance, witnesses said, soldiers started shooting, leaving 11 persons dead at the scene. Two died later in the hospital.

Initial army reports had said the military base and the Santiago police station had been attacked by rebels. The army later said two off-duty soldiers had been drunk and fired their weapons in the streets of Santiago de Atitlan, but that their actions had not justified such a massive reaction from the village.