The Taliban struck a convoy of police trainees outside the capital city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Kabul is not only the capital of Afghanistan, it is also its largest city, with an estimated population of 4.635 million (2015). Kabul is approximately 150km East of Jalalabad and another 83 km from the famed Khyber Pass.
Afghanistan was founded in 1747, when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist countercoup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war; it withdrew in 1989.
A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Usama Bin Ladin. A UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005.
In December 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. Karzai was reelected in August 2009 for a second term. In September of 2014, the two presidential candidates ended a disputed election with an agreement to form the Government of National Unity. One candidate (Ghani) was inaugurated as President, the other (Abdullah), was elevated to Chief Executive Officer. The Ghani administration signed the US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which provide the legal basis for the post-2014 international military presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban remains a serious challenge for the Afghan Government in almost every province. The Taliban still considers itself the rightful government of Afghanistan and it remains a capable and confident insurgent force.
Afghanistan's natural resources include: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones. The country experiences cold winters and hot summers with an arid to semiarid climate. The terrain of Afghanistan is mostly rugged mountains, with plains in the north and southwest.
CIA World Factbook, 6/2016