Chronology: Afghanistan/Algeria/Bahrain/Egypt/Iran/Iraq/Israel/Jordan/Kuwait/Lebanon/Libya/Mauritania/Morocco/Oman/Pakistan/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/Sudan/Syria/Tunisia/Turkey/United Arab Emirates/Yemen

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Jul. 22: Twenty-three South Koreans were abducted by Taliban militants who threatened to kill the hostages if the Afghan government refused to release an equal number of the ousted regime's Islamist insurgents. Negotiations continued between the Taliban and local tribal leaders with the hopes for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The South Korean hostages, visiting the war-torn country on a 10-day relief mission with a Protestant church organization, were mostly women in their 20s and 30s and were seized while traveling via bus along the road from Kabul to Kandahar. [NYT, 7/22]

Jul. 23: The last king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, died at the age of 92. Afghan President Karzai announced the king's death and venerated him as a "symbol of national unity" who had delivered education and development to Afghanistan during his 40-year reign. While a bloodless coup in 1973 brought Zahir Shah's rule, as well as that of the 300-year-old dynasty, to an end, the king returned to his homeland from exile in Italy in April 2002 to support the fledging democracy. [NYT, 7/23]

Jul. 31: The Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA) reported that it had cleared over 900,000 square meters of minefields and over six million square meters of battlefields in July 2007, allowing for more acreage for farms and housing and the return of Afghan refugees. The organization discovered and removed 30,548 unexploded arms from the ground, including 118 antipersonnel mines and 35 antitank mines. Since 1989, MAPA had de-mined over one billion square meters of Afghanistan. [RFE, 7/31]

The Taliban executed two South Korean hostages when the Afghan government refused to comply with the group's demand that a number of its captured fighters be released. The two male hostages were found dead in the Ghazni province. [RFE, 7/31]

Aug. 4: Approximately 100 Afghan widows marched outside Kabul's UN Mission to ask for international support in identifying the hundreds of remains found inside a newly unearthed mass grave three kilometers outside of the Afghan capital. The mass grave was found near weapons bunkers which dated back to the Soviet occupation of 1978-9, though forensic experts could not confirm if the grave was filled with victims from Afghanistan's nearly 30 years of war. The UN pledged to support the identification efforts. [RFE, 8/6]

Aug. 8: About 75 Taliban militants - armed with grenades and rockets - attempted to overwhelm the US military base Firebase Anaconda in the southern province of Uruzgan. Coalition forces repelled the onslaught with mortars and air support, leaving 20 insurgents dead. The conventional ground based frontal attack marked a distinct departure from traditional Taliban tactics of lobbing mortars from afar and using suicide bombers and roadside bombs. [RFE, 8/8]

Aug. 13: In a "goodwill gesture," the Taliban released two ill South Korean missionaries held captive since July 19, leaving 19 more in confinement. A delegation of tribal elders was negotiating with the Taliban to secure the release of the remaining hostages. [RFE, 8/13]

Aug. 30: The last seven of the 23 South Koreans kidnapped by the Taliban were released. The releases followed direct talks between Seoul and the Taliban in which South Korea agreed to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year as scheduled and end all missionary work in the country. [BBC, 8/30]

Sept. 10: At least 26 people were killed in a market in the southern town of Gereshk, in the Helmand province, in one of the deadliest suicide attacks of 2007 in Afghanistan. Thirteen of those killed were police officers and 13 were civilians. At least 225 people were killed in escalating suicide bombings in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2007, more than two-thirds of them civilians. [NYT, 9/11]

Sept. 19: British-led forces launched a major operation involving 2,500 troops to clear insurgents from a valley in the southern provinces of Helmand. …


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