Afghanistan

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan fell by 22 percent this year as prices for the drug tumbled causing farmers to switch to other crops, the UN said Sept. 2.Some 1.6 million Afghans, or 6.4 percent of the population, are involved in the illegal drugs trade compared to 2.4 million last year, according to an annual UN report, a rare bit of good news for Western efforts in the country, where an 8-year-old war against the Taliban is at its most violent. While the industry is mainly controlled by criminal gangs and corrupt officials, the Taliban are said to siphon off millions of dollars from the opium trade by imposing taxes on farmers and smugglers in return for ensuring safe passage of the drug. (Reuters)

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