Taliban Chief Warns Opium Growers in Northern Afghanistan
Chief of the ruling Taliban militia Mulla Mohammad Omar Sunday warned farmers in the opposition controlled parts of northern Afghanistan that they would be punished if they cultivate the opium poppy.
"If the troops from the Islamic army of Taliban capture the areas under the opposition and find poppy cultivation, they will destroy the fields and punish the farmers," Omar said in a statement from his southern Kandahar base.
Omar called upon farmers in the opposition-held districts to abide by his decree, his spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen told AFP.
The reclusive Taliban chief last month announced a total ban on opium cultivation throughout the war-torn country, saying violators would be punished. Omar did not specify the penalty.
Afghanistan last year emerged as the world's largest opium-producer with a record yield of 4,600 tons.
A UN report last month said the crop in the drought-hit country this year dropped to 3,275 tons, a 28 percent decline.
Mutmaen denied reports in the regional press that farmers in some frontier districts in eastern Nangarhar province were defying Omar's decree.
The ban is being observed throughout the Taliban-controlled areas, he said.
In the past week the ruling militia burnt 25 heroin laboratories along with a large quantity of narcotics in some districts of Helmand province on the border with Pakistan -- KABUL (AFP)
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