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1978: Afghan coup rebels claim victory
The new rulers of Afghanistan have announced that almost the whole of the leadership of the ousted regime is dead.

Two days ago, they declared President Mohammed Daoud, 68, had been killed - along with his brother Mohammed Na'im - for refusing to pledge allegiance to the new left-wing government.

This was followed by a bloodbath in the capital, Kabul, with reports of streets littered with bodies.

Kabul Radio broadcast the announcement saying the vice president, defence minister, interior minister and commander of the air force had all been killed in fighting.

General Abdul Kader, a former vice-commander of the air force, stated over the radio that a "military revolutionary council" had taken control.

Purge of Daoud supporters

Police loyal to the former president have been rounded up and students wearing red scarves have been seen directing traffic in the streets.

Travellers to the area say a massive purge of Daoud supporters is underway with people being rounded up and shot all over the country.

The coup was led by young officers in the army and air force, most of whom were trained in the Soviet Union. Sources in Kabul believe it was engineered and supported by Moscow to preserve its influence in the area.

The late President Daoud had ruled Afghanistan since 1973 when he ousted his brother-in-law King Zahir Shah, with the help of Soviet-trained officers.

But gradually he removed these men from positions of power and declared himself to be aligned to neither East nor West - yet still collected aid from both.

The present uprising was sparked off two weeks ago by the murder of Mir Akbar Parcham, leader of the Parcham Party backed by Moscow.

Daoud ordered the arrest of other leading figures of the Parcham Party in an anti-Communist campaign that led to this week's bloody coup.

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Tanks on the streets of Kabul
Tanks operated by young Communist officers patrol Kabul

In Context
Noor Mohammed Taraki emerged as Afghanistan's new president. He brought in Marxist reforms and aligned the country more closely with the USSR.

In September 1979, Taraki was ousted and his hardline deputy Hafizullah Amin took power.

The Soviet Union then sent in troops on the advice of the KGB, Amin was executed, and the Soviet-supported Babrak Karmal became president.

After a long and devastating war with guerrilla opposition forces - the mujahideen - the last of the Soviet troops left Afghanistan in 1989.

In 1992 an alliance of guerrilla factions took Kabul with Burhanuddin Rabbani as its interim president.

The Taleban declared themselves rulers of Afghanistan in September 1996 and imposed a puritanical form of Islamic law in the two thirds of the country they controlled.

They were ousted in late 2001 with the help of US and British air strikes after refusing to hand over Osama Bin Laden. In April 2002 the former king Zahir Shah returned but said he would make no claim to the throne.

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