15 Jun 2011

Tonga's first troops to Afghanistan return home Thursday

1:47 pm on 15 June 2011

Tonga's first contingent of soldiers to have served in Afghanistan will return home on Thursday.

Fifty-five Tongan soldiers have been deployed in Helmand Province for six months.

Lieutenant Commander Solomone Savelio told Matangi Tonga Online the country's second deployment of 55 soldiers had taken up duties at the British Camp Bastion, after a hand-over ceremony with the first contingent in June.

He says a third contingent will be deployed to Afghanistan at the end of this year, while a final contingent will be sent around the middle of 2012.

Tonga's deployment into Afghanistan is to support a NATO-led International Security Armed Forces Mission.

Tongan soldiers are working alongside British troops and United States Marines, conducting force protection and security on the boundaries of Camp Bastion.