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First Group of UN Peacekeepers Withdraws From Burundi

The first group of United Nations peacekeepers has left Burundi as part of a gradual 12-month withdrawal plan from the central African country.

U.N. officials say some 170 Mozambican peacekeepers departed Saturday from an airport in the capital, Bujumbura.

The United Nations plans to reduce its 5,500-member peacekeeping force in Burundi by 40 percent by April.

Next to leave will be the Kenyans, followed by the Ethiopians and other nationalities which make up the force.

U.N. peacekeepers have been in Burundi since 2004, when the government and rebels signed an agreement ending their 12-year civil war. Some 300,000 people died in the long ethnic conflict between Hutu rebels and the politically-dominant Tutsis.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.