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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 18:24 GMT
Last US plane leaves Uzbek base
US air base in Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan
The US is leaving ahead of its six-month deadline
The US has flown its last plane out of an air base in Uzbekistan that has been an important staging point for US military operations in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan in July gave the US six months to leave the base, after it joined international condemnation of the suppression of a May uprising.

In a ceremony, troops lowered the US flag and handed to Uzbek officials the keys to the Karshi-Khanabad base.

Some personnel remain at the base, which the US has occupied since 2001.

Tensions

"We are still performing some small operations on the base," US Central Command spokesman Joe Vermette told the Associated Press news agency.

A Pentagon spokesman said troops had been withdrawing from the base over the past several months. It is not clear when the last troops will leave.

The US and other Western countries called for an international investigation into the events in the Uzbek city of Andijan earlier this year.

The Uzbek government says 187 people, mostly "terrorist organisers", died during the unrest. Human rights groups say 500 or more civilians may have been shot by Uzbek security forces.




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