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NATO Commander in Afghanistan Predicts Record Poppy Crop, Continued Violence This Year

The top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan says this year will bring record opium production and continuing attacks by Taliban insurgents.

U.S. General Dan McNeill told reporters in Kabul Wednesday that what he called an "explosive" growth in poppy crops will bankroll Taliban fighters.

The general said when he sees a poppy field - mostly in Afghanistan's volatile south - he sees it turning into money and then bombs, Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades used against NATO, U.S. and Afghan forces.

General McNeill also said the 40,000-strong NATO force is not trained or equipped to eradicate Afghanistan's poppy crops, which produce 90 percent of the world's heroin supply.

Last year saw a dramatic rise in the number of militant attacks in Afghanistan, with an estimated 6,000 people killed. Taliban and rebel violence is at its highest level since a U.S.- led invasion ousted the Taliban government after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.