New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan
New Zealand withdraws its troops from Afghanistan a year and a half earlier than planned.
On August 20, Prime Minister John Key announced the country would remove its 145 troops "as fast as we can" but by all means earlier than September 2013, as initially planned. Weeks and several deaths later, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed the New Zealand troops would pull out by the end of April 2013.
The announcement was made following the death of five New Zealand soldiers in a single month, accounting for half of all the fatalities suffered by the country.
According to Key, plans for an early withdrawal were in the making before the fatalities.
Earlier, France and Australia already announced the withdrawal of their soldiers from Afghanistan earlier than scheduled. All remaining NATO troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.