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Afghan opium poppy cultivation down

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Roadside bombings and abductions in Afghanistan jumped in 2008 but the U.S. envoy there says opium poppy cultivation declined during the year.

Speaking in Kabul, Ambassador William Wood said roadside bombings in Afghanistan doubled to 2,000 this year from 1,000 in 2007, CNN reported.

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"(Bombs) don't advance the terrorist cause at all," he said. "They don't win them any territory, they don't win them any friends, all they do is prove the presence and brutality of the terrorists."

The number of kidnappings rose to 250 this year from 130 in 2007, the ambassador said, cautioning it is feared there had been many unreported abductions.

U.S. military officials have said up to 30,000 additional troops might be sent to Afghanistan next year, as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama plans to shift focus to that country to tackle the growing Taliban violence.

In the fight against narcotics trade in Afghanistan which finances the militants, Wood said there has been a nearly 20 percent decline this year in the processing and cultivation of opium, the report said.

Wood also said the Afghan national army is growing by 2,500 soldiers a month and expects to double its size in three years, the report said.

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