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New Zealand withdraws its troops from Afghanistan

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April 4, 2013 09:14 PM EST | AP

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BAMIYAN, Afghanistan — New Zealand has withdrawn its small contingent of troops from Afghanistan.

The South Pacific nation had stationed about 145 soldiers in central Bamiyan province since 2003. Ten of its soldiers died during the conflict.

The withdrawal came about five months earlier than initially planned. The U.S. and its allies plan to withdraw all remaining troops by the end of 2014.

In a ceremony Thursday, New Zealand lowered its flag and opened a memorial to commemorate both the New Zealand troops and Afghan security forces who died in the province.

About 95 Afghan interpreters and their family members who worked with the Kiwis will this month move to New Zealand, where they have been granted residency.

New Zealand will continue to station 27 planning and intelligence personnel in Kabul.