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May 4, 2012

Afghanistan, May 2012

With well over a year before American forces pull out of Afghanistan, the conflict there drags on. Every month in The Big Picture, we feature a selection of recent images of events there, from the soldiers and insurgents at war, the people longing for peace, and daily life and culture in the country of 29 million. Afghanistan remains among the world's poorest nations, and struggles with issues not found in other places, like an ongoing fight against polio. Afghanistan still supplies about 90% of the world's opium, a major cash crop in a country with few viable exports. Gathered here are images from April, 2012. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

Afghan policemen are mirrored in glass from a broken window as they stand guard outside the building where Taliban fighters launched an attack in Kabul on April 16, 2012. A total of 36 Taliban militants were killed as they mounted a wave of attacks across Afghanistan. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

A drug addict injects heroin in a young boy at a waste water canal in Kabul on April 25, 2012. Between 2005 and 2009 the number of Afghan heroin addicts tripled to 150,000, according to the United Nations, with 230,000 people now using opium. Afghanistan grows about 90 percent of the world's opium. Export earnings last year from Afghan opiates were estimated to be worth 2.4 billion USD-- equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan works inside a coal mine in Samangan province on April 3, 2012. Afghanistan is believed to have mineral reserves worth as much as 3 trillion USD which could theoretically generate billions of dollars in tax revenue. (Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man serves food in his stall along a street in Kabul on April 10, 2012. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

Afghan youth play billiards at a club in Kabul on April 11, 2012. Games such as snooker and pool, which were banned under the Taliban, are seeing an increase in popularity in Afghanistan. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan woman walks in a passageway in the old part of Herat on April 23, 2012. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed March 21 never to accept a peace agreement in Afghanistan that rolls back women's rights, despite reaching out to the Taliban for talks. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan women weave carpets at a traditional carpet factory in Jalalabad on April 10, 2012. Weaving carpets is one of the ancient and traditional arts of Afghanistan and with the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, weavers are able to export their carpets to customers across the world. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan youth performs a stunt during a freestyle motocross event in Herat on April 18, 2012. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghans ride a motorcycle in the Zharay district of Kandahar province on April 24, 2012. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

A butcher cuts mutton for customers at a market in Kabul on April 27, 2012. Afghanistan still has a flailing economy despite huge infusions of Western cash for the past decade. (Ismoyobay Ismoyo/AFP/GettyImages) #

Roosters duel during a cockfighting match in Kabul on April 20, 2012. Cockfighting is a popular game among Afghans during the winter season which was banned by the Taliban. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan woman shouts slogans against Afghan politicians on a loadspeaker as she holds her child during a demonstration in Kabul on April 30, 2012. Hundreds of supporters of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan marched against the revolution day of the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan taking over of political power in 1970s and Mujahadeen victory day which followed the civil war in Afghanistan. The placards read: "April 28 is darker than April 27." (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

An Afghan woman beggar sleeps next to two children on a road in the city of Jalalabad on April 26, 2012. (Rahmat Gul/Associated Press) #

Afghan electrical engineer Zemarai Elali works on his remote-controlled airplane in Nimroz province. He built a private fleet of five drones -- but says he will not allow them to be used as weapons in his insurgency-wracked country. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan girl plays near the Kart-e-sakhi shrine in Kabul on April 10, 2012. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan health worker administers a polio vaccination to a child during a campaign in Jalalabad on April 23, 2012. Afghanistan is one of the few countries in the world that still has the crippling polio virus with new cases reported every year, most often in areas where insurgent threats mean vaccinators are unable to reach all children. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan girl stands in the doorway of her house in Herat on April 23, 2012. Children in Afghanistan suffer one of the highest levels of chronic malnutrition in the world. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #

A girl searches for recyclable items in a rubbish heap on the outskirts of Kabul on April 26, 2012. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

An Afghan policeman stands guard in an opium poppy field in Alingar on April 30, 2012 after a bomb exploded next to the fields during an eradication campaign. Afghanistan supplies most of the world's opium. (Rahmat Gul/Associated Press) #

An Afghan National Army soldier walks during a mission in the Zhary district in Kandahar province on April 18, 2012. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

An Afghan man claiming he was shot by the Taliban is treated by U.S. soldiers in an aid station in Kandahar province on April 8, 2012. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

Afghan doctors adjust a prosthetic leg for a man at an ICRC hospital for war victims at the Orthopedic Center of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul on April 11, 2012. The free-of-charge centers log some 6,000 new patients every year, all of them Afghans. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

Afghan special forces stand as NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (not pictured) visits the commando training center in Kabul on April 12, 2012. (Musadeq Sadeq)/Associated Press) #

A NATO soldier carries a sniffing dog after a gun battle in Kabul on April 16, 2012. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the capital ended when insurgents were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from coalition helicopters. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

Gunfire and smoke streams out of a building occupied by militants during a battle with Afghan-led forces in Kabul on April 16, 2012. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

Afghan special forces occupy the same building in Kabul later on April 16, 2012. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

A long exposure blurs the headlamps and bodies of a crew from the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division as they prepare to launch a RQ7 Bravo UAV at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Kandahar province. (James Robinson/The Fayetteville Observer/Associated Press) #

U.S. soldier Nicholas Dickhut from 5-20 infantry Regiment attached to 82nd Airborne points his rifle at a doorway after coming under fire by the Taliban while on patrol in Zharay district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan April 26, 2012. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

An Army carry team salutes a vehicle transporting a transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins on April 17, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Higgins, 23, of Yantis, Texas, died April 14, 2012 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press) #

A Marine carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe on April 16, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Tarwoe, 25, of Providence, R.I., died April 12, 2012 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press) #

The family of U.S. Army Sgt. Chris J. Workman receives his body during a special ceremony on April 20, 2012 at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. The ceremony, known as an honorable transfer, was organized by the Idaho National Guard. Workman, who grew up in Rupert, Idaho, was killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash on April 19 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was 33. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Associated Press) #

Private Stephen Bainbridge looks at the Soldiers from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, as they march through Inverness during a homecoming parade on April 18, 2012 in Inverness, Scotland. The soldiers recently returned from a six month tour in Afghanistan. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #

Mariah Barlow, 12, cries as her father, Chief Warrant Officer Joel Barlow with the Idaho National Guard, leaves for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan on April 7, 2012 in Boise, Idaho. (Charlie Litchfield/Idaho Press-Tribune/Associated Press) #