Today marks the 30th anniversary of the storming by Soviet soldiers of the Afghan presidential palace at the outset of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.
Soviet special forces troops attacked the Tajbeg palace on the fringe of Kabul On December 27, 1979, and killed communist President Hafizullah Amin and members of his family.
Moscow-backed officials announced the next day that Babrak Karmal had become the new leader of the country.
The Soviet invasion kicked off a war of more than nine years between mujahedin groups and Soviet forces that led to the deaths of more than 1 million Afghans and some 15,000 Soviet army troops and other personnel.
Soviet leaders ordered a withdrawal in May 1988 under the strain of the mounting losses and increasing disquiet at home, and Soviet troops completed their withdrawal in February, 1989.
The resulting power vacuum led to continued civil war and another generation of conflict.
compiled from RFE/RL and agency reports