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France to Withdraw 200 Troops from Afghanistan

France has announced it will withdraw about 200 members of its military special forces from Afghanistan in the next few weeks.

The French defense minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said troops would leave their post in eastern Afghanistan where they have been involved in the fight against al Qaida and Taleban forces and in the search for Osama bin Laden. More than 1500 other French forces are expected to remain in the country.

Taleban insurgents have stepped up attacks on NATO and Afghan soldiers this year in their fight against the Kabul government and its Western allies.

Early Sunday, NATO officials said a suicide bomber drove up to an American convoy in eastern Afghanistan and detonated his vehicle, killing one Afghan civilian and wounding two others.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force says no troops in the convoy were killed or wounded.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Taleban militants claim most suicide attacks in Afghanistan as part of their ongoing insurgency.

Violence tied to the insurgency has killed at least four thousand people in 2006.