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New Zealand Signals Early Afghan Exit

Soldiers carry the coffins of two New Zealand soldiers killed in Banyan Province in a battle with Taliban insurgents.
New Zealand has pledged to withdraw from Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

Prime Minister John Key said it was "highly likely" that the remaining soldiers from New Zealand's contingent of 145 troops would be withdrawn in April 2013.

The government had previously announced the troops would be withdrawn "in the latter part of 2013."

Key said the move was not prompted by the deaths this month of five New Zealand soldiers, including three who were killed on August 19 by a roadside bomb.

A total of 10 New Zealand soldiers have now died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The New Zealand contingent has been stationed in the central province of Bamiyan.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

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