Thirteen years after being overthrown by US-led forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban are making a bloody comeback.
The run-up to the presidential election on Saturday, when the people of Afghanistan will vote for their first president since Hamid Karzai was elected after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, has been marked by a wave of deadly violence.
The radical Islamic group has vowed to violently disrupt the elections, which it claims have been stage managed by the United States.
Here’s a recap of the major events of the past three months of the Taliban campaign.
1. April 4, 2014: Associated Press journalist killed
An Afghan person walks past a graffiti slogan against the forthcoming presidential election in the northwestern city of Herat on April 3, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)
A foreign journalist was shot dead and another wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Friday on the eve of the presidential election.
Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed instantly and reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, was wounded when an Afghan policeman fired on them. The pair had been sitting in a car with an interpreter and an AP freelancer waiting to enter a heavily guarded compound in a small town on the border with Pakistan.
Gannon is said to be in a stable condition after undergoing surgery.
2. April 2, 2014: Interior Ministry attack
Police stand at the entrance to the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul where a suicide bomber blew himself up on April 2, 2014. Six policemen were killed in the attack. (AFP/Getty Images)
A Taliban suicide bomber wearing a military uniform blew himself up outside the main gate of the Afghan Interior Ministry in one of the most heavily fortified areas of Kabul on Wednesday, killing himself and six policemen.
The attack took place on the last day of campaigning for Saturday’s presidential election.
3. March 29, 2014: Independent Election Commission offices attacked
A bloodied election poster that reads 'Your vote is your future' lies on the ground at the site of a suicide attack on an Independent Election Commission office in Kabul on March 25, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)
Taliban insurgents attacked the Independent Election Commission headquarters in Kabul on March 29, less than 24 hours after militants laid siege to a foreign guesthouse in the Afghan capital.
Four suicide bombers were killed in a five-hour gun battle with Afghan security forces.
The IEC compound is close to the offices of the United Nations and other international organizations.
It marked the second attack on an IEC building in less than a week.
4. March 28, 2014: Kabul guesthouse siege
Foreigners are evacuated from a guesthouse in the Afghan capital of Kabul during an attack by Taliban gunmen on March 28, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)
A group of Taliban gunmen stormed a Kabul guesthouse used by a US-based aid group on March 28 and held four foreigners hostage for several hours.
The siege ended after four of the five attackers blew themselves up, while the fifth was shot dead by security forces. An Afghan child was also killed. There were no foreign casualties.
5. March 20, 2014: Serena Hotel shooting
AFP reporter Sardar Ahmad, 40, poses for a photo on March 20, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)
Agence France-Presse reporter Sardar Ahmad was killed along with his wife and two of his three children when four Taliban gunmen opened fire in a Kabul luxury hotel restaurant on March 20.
Ahmad’s third child was critically injured in the shooting rampage, which also claimed the lives of four foreigners.
Security forces shot the gunmen.
6. March 11, 2014: Swedish-British journalist shot dead
US and Afghan security forces are seen through the broken window of a suicide bomber's car in Kabul on Feb. 24, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)
Journalist Nils Horner, 51, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in a street in Kabul on March 11.
The attack happened in broad daylight in the one of the most heavily guarded districts of the Afghan capital. Horner, who had dual Swedish-British nationality, worked for Swedish Radio.
7. March 10, 2014: Taliban promises campaign of violence
Kabul residents walk past security personnel following an attack by Taliban insurgents on a voting center in the Afghan capital on March 29, 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)
The Afghan Taliban on March 10 vowed to use “full force” to disrupt the April 5 presidential election, which it said was being manipulated by the United States.
"The people should realize that the election will bear no result because the real elections have taken place in CIA and Pentagon offices and their favorite candidate has already been chosen," the Taliban said in a statement.
"...All fighters are given orders to disrupt this sham elections by full force and bring under attacks election workers, activists, volunteers and those providing security everywhere. If someone takes part in this [election], they will be responsible for the bad consequences themselves."
8. Jan. 17, 2014: Restaurant killing spree
An Afghan soldier stands outside a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul on Jan. 18, 2014, a day after it was attacked by gunmen. (AFP/Getty Images)
Twenty-one people were killed when two gunmen opened fired in a restaurant popular with foreigners in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Jan. 17.
The killing spree in the Taverna du Liban in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood was claimed by Taliban militants.
Thirteen foreigners, including three Americans, were among the casualties.
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