Key events since Taliban takeover of Afghanistan a year ago

The Taliban returned to power a year ago, the first to oust the regime in two decades, as US-led forces withdrew from the country.

After a lightning offensive launched from the southern province of Kandahar, the armed group made a sweeping return to power on August 15 last year.

Here are the key events of the past 12 months:

The Taliban captured Kabul

As the US and its allies began to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban launched a final offensive to regain control of the country they ruled between 1996 and 2001.

In August, the group stepped up its campaign and took control of cities in a 10-day lightning strike across the country, ending with the fall of the capital, Kabul, on 15 August 2021.

Accepting that the “Taliban had won”, President Ashraf Ghani fled to Abu Dhabi.

Thousands of terrified Afghans and foreigners flock to Kabul airport to board their last flight out of the country.

Washington froze nearly $7 billion in Afghan reserves in US banks, and donors suspended or dramatically reduced their aid to the country.

After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, Taliban fighters seized the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul. [File: Zabi Karimi/AP]

US Chaotic Exit Complete

Chaos reigns at the airport, where scores of people have died trying to get onto the tarmac as the US and its allies hastily evacuate their citizens and Afghan nationals who were helping the outgoing government.

On August 26, a suicide bomb exploded in a crowd, killing more than 100 people, including 13 US service members.

The ISIL (ISIS) group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a rival of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Four days later, the Taliban celebrated the departure of the last US troops and their allies on August 30.

The religious police returned

Despite the Taliban’s claim to have ended its path of repression, the signs are ominous. A new interim government will be unveiled in September, with hardliners in all key positions and no women.

The Taliban also brings back the dreaded Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, enforcing the group’s strict interpretation of Islam.

The actions led to protests in Kabul and Herat, where two people were shot dead.

Afghan women
Afghan women protested in Kabul against the Taliban’s restrictions on women [File: Ali Khara/Reuters]

ISIL is attacking mosques

In October, explosions at a Shiite mosque in Kandahar during Friday prayers killed 60 people, in the deadliest attack since the departure of US troops.

The attack, claimed by Afghanistan’s ISIL chapter, comes a week after a suicide attack on another Shiite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz killed dozens.

Talks are underway with the Taliban in Oslo

Deprived of aid, Afghanistan is plunged into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis.

Norway has invited the Taliban to talks with members of Afghan civil society and Western diplomats in Oslo.

An all-male Taliban delegation is heading to the meeting, during which officials from the US and Europe explore the possibility of providing direct aid to the Afghan people.

Girls are banned from going to school

In March, Taliban officials prevented secondary school girls from returning to class hours after schools reopened. He also suggests that government employees should grow beards.

Women were ordered to cover up

In May, women and girls have been ordered to wear hijabs and cover their faces in public, with religious police saying they prefer women to stay at home.

Female TV presenters are among those targeted by the measure, which has sparked international outrage.

Women are banned from traveling long distances alone and are only allowed to visit the capital’s public parks on days when men are not allowed.

A huge earthquake

More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands left homeless when an earthquake hit Afghanistan’s Pakistan border on June 22.

The disaster poses a major logistical challenge for the Taliban government, which is not officially recognized by any country.

International aid agencies come to help, sending food, tents and medical supplies.

Al-Qaeda chief killed in US drone strike

On August 2 this year, President Joe Biden announced that al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, had been killed in a drone strike on his Kabul hideout.

The Taliban condemns the strike but has not confirmed al-Zawahiri’s death, saying it is investigating the US claim.

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