July 1, 1960: Somali people, ruled since late 1800s by Britain and Italy, gain independence and unification.Oct. 21, 1969: Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre takes power in a bloodless coup. Soviet Union backs reorganization of state into a "scientific socialist" nation. July 1977: Somali Army goes to war in the Ogaden desert region of Ethiopia. Nov. 13: Somalia breaks with Soviet Union. March 1978: Somalis retreat before counteroffensive of Soviet-backed Ethiopian forces. April 1981: Rebel Somali National Movement (SNM) launched in Northeast. May 1987: Government announces emergency in 12 drought-affected areas. Aug. 7, 1990: SNM, United Somali Congress (USC), and Somali Patriotic Movement form alliance. Dec. 23: Rebel USC closes in on Mogadishu. Heavy fighting reported on city outskirts. Jan. 27, 1991: Siad Barre flees capital. Jan. 29: USC proclaims interim president; choice is protested by other rebel factions; inter-tribal fighting begins. May 18: SNM proclaims independent Somaliland Republic in northern Somalia. May 28: Ethiopian rebels seize their capital, disrupting food relief to Somali refugees. July 15: Peace talks aimed at ending Somali factional strife begin in Djibouti.