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Dutch Withdraw From Afghanistan

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The last Dutch forces are leaving Afghanistan Sunday, marking the end of the Netherlands' four-year mission in the central province of Uruzgan.  

The Dutch withdrawal is the most significant pull-out of troops from the Afghan war, now in its ninth year.

American, Australian, Slovak and Singaporean forces will replace the 1,600-member Dutch military contingent.  Twenty-four Dutch soldiers were killed during the mission.

In violence Sunday, Afghan officials say a roadside bomb blast hit a bus in southern Kandahar province, killing six civilians and wounding nine others.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

Roadside bombs are a favorite weapon of Taliban insurgents against foreign and Afghan government forces, but civilians are often victims of the explosions.

Also Sunday, NATO said one of its service members died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan.  The coalition did not provide further details.  

U.S. and NATO commanders have warned of an increase in violence as international and Afghan forces work to clear the south of Taliban insurgents.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, hundreds of demonstrators protested the reported killing of 52 civilians in a NATO rocket strike.  NATO disputes the allegation of civilian deaths in the Helmand province attack, which took place July 23.   

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