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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Dutch F-16 crash in Afghanistan
The Dutch air force has launched an inquiry into the accident
A Dutch F-16 fighter pilot has died after his plane crashed in southern Afghanistan, officials say.

They said that the plane was flying at a "great height" when the accident occurred, which meant that it was unlikely that it was shot down.

"We therefore assume it was an accident," the Dutch defence ministry said in a statement.

The 29-year-old pilot is the third Dutchman to die in Afghanistan, after a July helicopter crash killed two men.

The ministry said the plane came down in the province of Ghazni, where it was supporting Nato peacekeeping troops on their way to southern Afghanistan.

The Dutch parliament had a heated debate in the spring to decide whether troops should take part in the Nato force which replaced US-led forces in the south last month.

The defence ministry said that the plane was found by a US rescue team, and the Dutch air force had launched an investigation into the accident.

The two Dutch men killed in July's helicopter crash were among 10 others who died.

Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest period since US-led forces overthrew the Taleban in late 2001.

Hundreds of people - mostly suspected militants and civilians - have been killed in violence since January.

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