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Timeline: The Taliban

Key dates in the history of the Taliban and Contemporary Afghanistan

by Laura Hayes and Borgna Brunner
1979-2000 2001 2002-2006 2006-present
2002

January

The Taliban officially capitulates. Seven top Taliban officials who surrendered at Kandahar are released by the interim government and are suspected of leaving the country. Pakistani intelligence officials detain Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef is put into U.S. custody.

The U.S. continues to bomb suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda sites and search for Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners of war are sent to United States Naval station at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.

March 2

The U.S. begins Operation Anaconda, a combined effort of U.S. and Afghani forces to route entrenched Taliban and al-Qaeda forces from the mountains north of Gardeyz. The operation involves more than 1,000 U.S. ground troops in addition to helicopters and bombers. In the 16-day operation U.S. forces suffer 8 casualties. Official estimates of al-Qaeda and Taliban casualties are in the hundreds. Afghan commanders, however, maintain that many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escaped.

September 6

Hamid Karzai narrowly escapes being gunned down by an assassin. The gunman, who was killed by U.S. Special Forces, is a known Taliban activist. This is the second attempt on Karzai's life this year—in July, security forces found a car filled with explosives.

2003

March

Gunmen kill Ricardo Munguia, an engineer with the International Committee of the Red Cross. After executing Munguia with a shot to the head they warn Red Cross workers against assisting foreigners. Munguia was the first foreign aid worker killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was deposed.

Attacks against U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan spike, culminating in an ambush of U.S. Special Forces that leaves two soldiers dead.

Taliban forces took control of two remote districts near the Pakistani border and held them for nearly a week. They were driven out by Afghan military forces back by U.S. Special Forces and helicopter gunships.

March 20  The U.S. launches Operation Valiant Strike in Kandahar. This is the largest U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda a year earlier.

May

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims that most of Afghanistan is now secure and that American forces had moved from major combat operations to stabilization and reconstruction projects. However, pro-Taliban insurgents continue to stage almost daily attacks on government buildings, U.S. bases, and aid workers.

September

U.S.-led forces drive back Taliban rebels after some of the fiercest fighting since they were overthrown. Between 70 and 100 Taliban fighters were killed during a week of clashes in Afghanistan's southeastern Zabul province.

December

The U.S. military launches Operation Avalanche, its largest offensive in Afghanistan in two years. Operation Avalanche involves some 2,000 soldiers and is intended to keep Taliban insurgents on the defensive during a historic constitutional council.

2004

January

Afghanistan's Loya Jirga adopts a new constitution. The constitution grants equality for men and women and defines the country as an "Islamic Republic."

Donor countries pledge $8.2 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next three years.

March

President Karzai announces that Afghanistan's first post-Taliban elections will be postponed until September. The Taliban vows to disrupt the electoral process.

The U.S. sends 2,000 more marines to Afghanistan to step up the hunt for al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

April

Fighting between a regional warlord and provincial governor allied to government breaks out in northwest Afghanistan.

Taliban militans are suspected of killing 20 people, including two aid workers and a police chief, in the south.

June

The Taliban is suspected in a string of attacks on foreign workers and aid agencies.

One June 2, three Europeans working for Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are killed in an attack believed to have been carried out by the Taliban. MSF suspends its work in Afghanistan.

On June 16, four Afghan civilians are killed by a roadside bomb in Kunduz. The bomb is apparently aimed at an international peacekeeping force. Later that day a bomb explodes at the office of the London-based Afghanaid agency. The explosion at Afghanaid appears to be related to local power struggles and not a Taliban attack.

On June 27, suspected Taliban shoot dead 16 people after finding them in possession of voter registration cards.

July

The government pushes the presidential election to October and parliamentary elections to spring 2005.

Taliban insurgents kill a local police chief in the southern province of Kandahar.

2005

The Taliban begin to regroup in larger numbers and continue to attack U.S. troops, making it the deadliest year for U.S. troops since the war ended in 2001. The insurgents intensify their attacks over the summer in an attempt to disrupt September's parliamentary elections.

June

Insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing eight Navy Seals and eight other Special Operations troops who were on a mission to rescue four Navy Seals.

July and August

U.S. and Afghan troops fight back, killing about 100 Taliban fighters and capturing dozens.

2006

Throughout the spring of 2006, Taliban militants, now a force of several thousand--infiltrate southern Afghanistan, terrorizing local villagers and attacking Afghan and U.S. troops. Uruzgan, Helmand, and Kandahar provinces are particularly hard hit by militant violence. Battles between coalition troops and the Taliban kill dozens, including many civilians.

May and June

After a spate of Taliban suicide bombings and other attacks, Operation Mount Thrust is launched, deploying more than 10,000 Afghan and coalition forces in the south. About 700 people, most of whom are Taliban, are killed.

August

NATO troops take over military operations in southern Afghanistan from the U.S.-led coalition, putting a total of 21,000 American troops and 19,000 NATO troops on the ground. In September, it launches the largest attack in its 57-year history.


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