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U.S.-led poppy-eradication team attacked in southern Afghanistan Print
 The Associated Press - April 29, 2007

TIRIN KOT, Afghanistan -- Afghan and U.S. security officials were attacked with small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire as they hacked away at opium poppies in southern Afghanistan.

"We are taking fire!" said a panic-stricken voice over a radio Sunday.

The Afghan and U.S. agents involved in the poppy-eradication operation fled on foot, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters. Four Afghans were wounded in the attack, said NATO's International Security Assistance Force at a base in southern Uruzgan province.

"They are Taliban. They are fighting us," an Afghan agent said as bullets whizzed past.
Sunday's attack underscores the danger the counter-narcotics teams face in the south after the eradication operation was launched a day earlier in the area.

Afghanistan is the biggest producer of opium poppy in the world, yielding enough to produce 90 per cent of the world's supply of heroin.

Officials say the Taliban are raking in millions of dollars through poppy taxes. The U.S. government estimates the opium trade generates US$3 billion a year in illicit economic activity.

Afghanistan's opium crop grew by a record 59 per cent in 2006 to 164,700 hectares, yielding enough to make about 550 tonnes of heroin. Western and Afghan officials say they expect a similar crop this year.
 
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