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1960: Somalia gains independence after 40 years of British and Italian rule. 1969: Army coup brings Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre to power. Civilian government leaders detained; national assembly suspended.

1975: Land, banks, electricity, transportation are nationalized.

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1977: Somali-Ethiopia war breaks out in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia. Somalia breaks ties with Soviets.

1978: Coup attempt against Barre fails. 1981 Rebel Somali National Movement (SNM) established in London, with power base in north Somalia.

1988: SNM launches major offensive. Amnesty International accuses Somali government of a ``persistent pattern'' of torture of political prisoners.

1989: Forty seven civilians are massacred at Gesira Beach, south of Mogadishu, reportedly by government troops. Africa Watch accuses government of abusing women prisoners. Roman Catholic bishop in Mogadishu assassinated.

1990: Rebel United Somali Congress (USC) captures numerous towns in central Somalia.

Government promises to hold multiparty elections in 1991, but sets no dates. December 1990: Many United Nations and other diplomats evacuate Somalia as lawlessness increases in Mogadishu.

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