Key dates in Afghanistan's transition to democracy:

— Oct. 7, 2001: U.S. and British forces begin airstrikes against Taliban regime for sheltering Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorist network.

— Nov. 13, 2001: U.S.-backed Northern Alliance fighters enter Kabul, Afghan capital.

— Dec. 5, 2001: Conference of Afghan representatives in Germany creates framework for transitional government led by U.S.-approved candidate Hamid Karzai.

— Dec. 20, 2001: First international peacekeepers begin work in Kabul.

— Dec. 22, 2001: Interim government headed by Karzai sworn in.

— June 19, 2002: Grand council of Afghan leaders completes work on new government, affirming Karzai as country's interim president.

— Sept. 5, 2002: Gunman killed trying to assassinate Karzai.

— Nov. 3, 2003: Draft constitution presented after 11 months of work by 35-member commission, with local meetings for public input.

— Dec. 14, 2003: 502-member grand council convenes to debate constitutional draft.

— Jan. 4, 2004: Council adopts charter creating Islamic state under presidential system sought by Karzai, opening way for elections but also exposing enduring ethnic divisions.

— May 5, 2004: Three U.N. election workers shot dead in eastern Nuristan in attack claimed by Taliban rebels.

— June 25, 2004: Suspected Taliban kill up to 17 people in southern Uruzgan province because they registered to vote.

— Aug. 20, 2004: After nearly yearlong process during which 12 election workers slain, about 10.6 million Afghans are registered to vote.

— Sept. 7, 2004: Thirty days of campaigning starts for presidential election.

— Oct. 9, 2004: Hamid Karzai wins landslide in presidential election.

— Dec. 7, 2004: Karzai sworn in for five-year term.