Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Afghanistan - A Timeline
- A group of Afghans hijack a domestic flight in Kabul and fly to London. After four days, the standoff ends peacefully at Stansted Airport, north of London.
- The United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, promises 10 million US dollars in aid to Uzbekistan to assist in securing the Afghan border.
- Afghanistan shuts down the money market in Kabul in response to plummeting value of the Afghan currency.
- A deadly outbreak of measles, which first occurred in January, kills more than 1,000 people throughout Afghanistan. The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF begins distributing a vaccine in the worst affected areas.
- On April 24, a clash between the Taleban and Northern Alliance results in Northern Alliance forces capturing three Taleban military posts. The Taleban later claimed the action was illegal since it occurred during a ceasefire prompted by polio vaccine distribution.
- Afghan leaders distance themselves from posters circulating in Pakistan featuring Osama bin Laden’s calls for holy war against the United States.
- On April 27, The World Food Programme, WFP, reports that the drought in Kandahar and Zabul provinces is creating a desperate situation for residents. The programme had been feeding 30,000 families in the region and planned to aid an additional 10,000 in May.
- The annual US report on international terrorism names Afghanistan a major threat for its continued sheltering of Osama bin Laden, who is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed more than 200 people, according the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
- The severe drought continues and the United Nations calls for immediate international aid totalling 67 million dollars to assist over 10 million affected people.
- Kabul is hit by a series of bombings. Taleban authorities claim saboteurs are attempting to create an illusion of anarchy.
- Just north of Kabul, government forces clash with troops loyal to mujahedin commander Ahmad Shah Massoud; both sides claim heavy casualties.
- After heavy fighting, Taleban forces gain control of Taloqan, a key stronghold in the Northern Alliance’s supply routes. Around 150,000 refugees, including citizens of Taloqan, head for the Tajikistan border.
- A three-day ceasefire is called, allowing UN medical officers to provide polio vaccines for 4.5 million displaced children, continuing the initiative from June. Afghanistan is one of only four remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, according to UNICEF.
- Non-Afghan UN staff are pulled from the country as international sanctions are tightened; a backlash is feared. Exiled opposition leader Karim Kahlili returns from Iran. Anti-Taleban forces gain ground in several areas, including the Yakaolang District in Bamyan province.
- UN applies further sanctions against the Taleban with the intention of forcing them to give up Osama bin Laden
- International protests are ignored as the Taleban blow up 1500-year-old statues of Buddha in Bamiyan
- After being arrested in August, eight international aid workers are put on trial for spreading Christianity, a crime punishable by death. They are released in November, after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
- The leader of the Northern Alliance, the main opposition to the Taleban, Ahmad Shah Massoud, is killed by assassins posing as journalists.
- Four hijacked planes are crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington DC and a Pennsylvania field. US officials claim Bin Laden is behind the attack and demand the Taleban hand him over.
- On October 7, the US and Britain launch air strikes on targets in Afghanistan, including bases reportedly belonging to al-Qaeda and the Taleban, after demands for Osama bin Laden’s handover go unanswered by the Taleban. The Taleban declares jihad (holy war).
- The Northern Alliance enters Kabul after weeks of intense fighting, forcing the Taleban south toward Kandahar. The first US combat casualty, a CIA officer, is killed in a prison uprising.
- The Taleban’s hold on Afghanistan weakens considerably as both Kandahar and the mountain cave complex Tora Bora fall. Afghan groups meet in Bonn to establish an interim government. On December 22, Hamed Karzai is sworn in as the head of a 30-member power-sharing government.
- Former king Zahir Shah returns to Afghanistan but makes no claim to the throne.
- The first post-Taleban Loya Jirga (grand council) is held and elects Hamed Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai begins assigning posts to members of his administration, which will govern until 2004, when the first elections will be held.
- President Karzai escapes an assassination attempt in his home town of Kandahar. Vice-president Hajji Abdul Qadir was assassinated outside his office in Kabul in July.
- As violence increases, NATO takes over security in Kabul in the organisation’s first effort outside Europe.
- The Constitutional Loya Jirga adopts the new constitution, which calls for a president and two vice presidents. It includes equality for women, and names the official languages as Pashto and Dari. Nearly 500,000 Afghans contributed to the formulation of the constitution in public meetings.
- Twenty-three donors pledge 8.2 billion dollars in aid to Afghanistan over three years.
- Hamed Karzai wins the first presidential election with 55 per cent of the vote. The win comes shortly after a serious assassination attempt in September. Karzai is sworn in in December.
- The first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years are held peacefully in September. The parliament meets for the first time in December.
- International donors meet in London to pledge more than 10 billion dollars for reconstruction over five years.
- The worst anti-American rioting since the fall of the Taleban breaks out in Kabul after a US military vehicle crashes into 12 cars, killing five people and wounding many. The interior ministry confirmed 12 dead, including one police officer, and 138 wounded.
- NATO takes over security operations across Afghanistan after a series of battles between Taleban fighters and Afghan and coalition forces results in heavy casualties. After the NATO takeover from American troops, Taleban fighters begin a wave of suicide attacks.
- Pakistan says it arrested the third most senior member of the Taleban, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund. NATO launches Operation Achilles, its largest offensive to date, in the south.
- The senior military commander of the Taleban, Mullah Dadullah, is confirmed dead by NATO and the Afghan government after a US-led operation in the south.
- A Taleban suicide bomber kills 35 by blowing up a bus in Kabul. It is the bloodiest and most devastating bombing since the fall of the Taleban.
- Taleban mount a well orchestrated attack on the Kabul Serena, a five-star hotel in the centre of town, leaving at least eight people dead. The attack was a blow for security in the capital, and led to long-term lockdowns in the international community.
- At a meeting in Bucharest, NATO leaders call the mission in Afghanistan a top priority and pledge a long-term commitment.
- Britain pledges 230 more troops to the region, bringing the British involvement to more than 8,000 troops by spring 2009. Karzai warns of action against militants in Pakistan if the Pakistani government fails to take action.
- Suicide bombers attack the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing more than 50. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of executing the attacks. Pakistan denies involvement.
- Karzai accuses Afghan and US-led coalition forces of killing scores of civilians in an air strike in Herat province, marking the beginning of Karzai’s rocky relationship with the US.
- An extra 4,500 US troops are sent into Afghanistan as part of what President George Bush called a “quiet surge”. Germany follows suit in October, expanding its Afghanistan mission to 2009 and boosting troop numbers to 4,500.
- After the Taleban rejected President Karzai’s offer of peace talks in November, claiming they would not negotiate until foreign troops left Afghanistan, Karzai and Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari agree to form a joint strategy to fight militants operating in the border regions.
- Kabul gets stable electricity for the first time since the fall of the Taleban.
- 20 NATO countries agree to increase troops in Afghanistan following a pledged US dispatch of 17,000.
- Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission announces the presidential poll for August 20, sparking a crisis within the government. According to the constitution, Karzai’s term expires on May 22. Parliament insists he step down in favour of a caretaker. Karzai calls for an April vote, which is rejected by the IEC as unrealistic. The August 20 election is confirmed, and parliament backs down after the US embassy calls for “continuity of government” as the elections draw closer.
- President Barack Obama announces a new US policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, including dispatching an additional 4,000 US personnel to train the Afghan army and police force and additional support for civilian development.
- At a Senate briefing in Washington, General David Petraeus, the top American commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, warned against extremists and presented a harsh picture of security issues in Afghanistan.
- The Taleban claim responsibility for five suicide bombers who invaded a government office in Kandahar with assault rifles and hand grenades after detonating a car bomb. The attack killed 13 people and wounded 14.
- Karzai orders a review of a new law that places restrictions on women after criticisms from human rights bodies. The law states a woman may leave the house only “for a legitimate purpose” and that she is “bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband”. Karzai defends the law, stating that western media had mistranslated it.
- A NATO airstrike in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan is reported to have killed six civilians, including two children, and wounded 14 others after destroying and damaging several homes, according to Zalmay Yousufzai, the governor of Watapor district. A NATO spokesperson confirmed the strike, but said it would have to investigate whether there were any civilian casualties.
- Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledges an additional 700 servicement to Afghanistan, raising Britain’s involvement to 9,000 troops. The troops are expected to build security for the upcoming elections and will be withdrawn by early 2010.
- Haji Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan tribal leader, is sentenced to life in prison in New York after being convicted in an international drug trafficking scheme. The conspiracy sent millions of dollars worth of heroin around the world. Noorzai came to the US in 2005 to meet American officials when he was arrested.
- Afghan officials say that at least 30 civilians were killed in a May 4 bombing raid by the United States in western Afghanistan. Villagers say the death toll is between 70 and 100. The bombing came during heavy fighting in a densely populated area between Afghan troops and Taleban fighters, who were believed to have been using civilian homes for protection.
- Forty-four candidates register to run for president of Afghanistan. The contenders include two women and many former members of the Karzai administration who have since differed with him on policy and management style.
- A senior national security advisor, General James L Jones, says the United States will continue conducting air strikes in Afghanistan against extremist forces. He apologises for civilian deaths and says that an investigation is under way. The statement comes six days after a deadly and controversial air raid in western Afghanistan.
- On May 20, the American military rejects statements by the Afghan government that over 100 civilians were killed in a May 4 air raid. The US military did, however, state that between 20 and 30 civilians may have been killed, but claimed the majority of the dead were Taleban fighters.
- Afghan army commandos and American forces seize heroin and other drugs in what the American military said was the single largest drug hoard yet.
- The US military and Afghan forces release a statement detailing a battle in eastern Afghanistan that varies greatly from Taleban accounts. Coalition forces say they killed at least 29 militants, while a Taleban spokesman said none of his men died. The Taleban also said it killed 15 coalition members and captured four Afghan police officers.
- After investigating the May 4 air strikes that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, the US military says that significant errors were made by American personnel.
- British military officials say they killed dangerous Taleban leader, Mullah Mansur in southern Afghanistan on June 1. Local officials dispute the claim, stating it may have been a fighter with the same name.
- Conflicting reports of an American air strike in Ghor Province fuel the civilian casualties controversy in Afghanistan. Afghan officials say 10 civilians and 12 Taleban fighters were killed in an attack aimed at Taleban militant Mullah Mustafa. American officials say the attack occurred away from civilian homes and that 16 militants were killed.
- The final list of 41 candidates for the August 20 presidential election is released by the Independent Election Commission. The campaign began officially on June 16.
- President Karzai’s support suffers a sharp drop, with less than a third of Afghans backing his re-election, according to the result of an International Republican Institute poll.
- The New York Times reported that Pakistan is objecting to expanded American combat operations in Afghanistan, creating new fissures in the alliance with Washington at a critical juncture when thousands of new American forces are arriving in the region.
- The UN says preparations for the vote are in full swing, with 17 million ballot papers being distributed and a telephone help line in operation. Security measures will support the process, it said.
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