Tonga sends first troops to Afghanistan

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The Pacific nation of Tonga has sent off its first troops to be deployed in Afghanistan, where they will serve alongside the British military, officials said.

The 55 soldiers departed Monday for pre-deployment training in Britain before beginning their six-month assignment in Helmand province, military spokesman Colonel Siamelie Latu said.

They are the the first of 275 soldiers that Tonga has committed over a two-year period following a request from Britain.

Tongan soldiers served in Iraq from 2004 to 2006, and again from 2007 to December 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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