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“We should not tolerate such attacks. The Americans are invaders who have occupied our country in the name of fighting terrorism,” said 22-year-old Ahmad Jawed, a university student.

He said the Afghan government was equally to blame for failing to exert control over NATO troops.

“We don’t have a strong enough government to protect the rights of the Afghan people,” Mr. Jawed said.

In a letter to NATO-led forces, the top U.S. and coalition commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, reminded his troops they cannot succeed in turning back the Taliban without “providing (civilians) security and earning their trust and confidence.”

“The Taliban are not the only enemy of the people,” Gen. Petraeus said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press. “The people are also threatened by inadequate governance, corruption and the abuse of power — the Taliban’s best recruiters.”

Gen. Petraeus told his troops to “hunt the enemy aggressively” but “use only the firepower needed to win a fight.”

“If we kill civilians or damage their property in the course of our operations, we will create more enemies than our operations eliminate,” he said.

Also Sunday, the British Defense Ministry reported a British-Afghan operation to push the Taliban out of a stronghold in the central part of Helmand province was progressing “very well” as it entered its third day.

No casualties have been reported, and there has been limited contact with the Taliban, a military statement said. The operation, known as “Black Prince,” is directed against Taliban forces in Sayedebad.

The departure of the Dutch from Uruzgan marked the end of a mission that was deeply unpopular in the Netherlands but widely seen in Afghanistan as among the most effective. Twenty-four Dutch soldiers were killed since the mission began in 2006.

Only about 150 Dutch fighting forces are left in country, and they are set to leave next week, said Maj. Henk Asma, a spokesman for the Dutch military.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s government collapsed earlier this year over disagreement among coalition members on whether to keep troops in the country longer. His Christian Democrat party suffered heavy losses at parliamentary elections in June.

The Dutch pioneered a strategy they called “3D” in Afghanistan — defense, diplomacy and development — that involved fighting the Taliban while at the same time building close contacts with local tribal elders and setting up numerous development projects.

Dutch troops, some of them riding bicycles, mingled closely with the local population and often did not wear helmets while walking around towns and villages as a way of winning the trust of wary local tribes.

In a message to Dutch troops, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said he was “deeply impressed by the professionalism and dedication” of the soldiers and Dutch civilians working on development in the region.

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