KABUL (AFP) - Afghans are not chickens to be hunted, the Foreign Minister said Sunday, over a reported suggestion that Nato soldiers kill opium dealers even without proof of their ties to insurgents. The suggestion by Nato's supreme commander was reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel last week, prompting a row in the alliance and an inquiry into the leaking of a confidential document cited in the article. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said such a policy would be unacceptable to his government. "Killing an Afghan only over suspicion he might be involved in drugs trade or drugs production is an issue that Afghan government will very strongly react to," he told reporters. "Afghan people are not chickens whom one could hunt wherever one wanted to," he said when asked to comment. Spanta said the govt wanted suspects to be punished only after they were sentenced in court. Der Spiegel cited US General John Craddock as saying he wanted troops "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." It was "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," he told commanders. Meanwhile, opium production in Afghanistan is expected to drop for a second year in 2009, in part because of falling prices in a saturated market, a UN and Afghan government survey said Sunday. But the lucrative crop could bounce back if deteriorating security is not checked, said the annual report released at a press conference. "Following the 19pc reduction in opium cultivation in 2008, the 2009 Opium Winter Rapid Assessment anticipates a further decrease in opium cultivation," the report said. Afghanistan produces 90pc of the world's opium. Production last year was 387,950 acres, most of it in the volatile southern and southwestern areas of the rugged nation, where Taliban extremists have a strong presence. The report, based on surveys of 484 villages - around 1.6pc of the total - gave no figures for the anticipated decline, but said none of the 34 provinces was expected to increase cultivation. The number of provinces that could be declared free of opium poppies may rise from 18 to 22 if the government properly carries out programmes to eradicate illegal crops, it said. Afghanistan's counter-narcotics minister, General Khoidad, said he was particularly pleased that "for the first time in the past five years we see decrease in the south." This area, most notably the volatile province of Helmand, would still account for about 90pc of cultivation, the survey said. The declines in the south were due largely to higher prices of wheat, low opium prices and severe drought, UN Office on Drugs and Crime executive director Antonio Maria Costa said in the report. The fall in prices "can be attributed to the massive glut on the opium market due to major overproduction during the past three years," he said. Average prices for dry opium have plunged about 25pc over the year from about $113 a kilogram in 2008 to about $85 a kilogram year, the report said. The report warned, however, that in the south, "Farmers may bounce back with high opium cultivation if opium prices rise and the current insecurity situation prevails."