March 22: Military officers seize power to protest government's failure to deal with Tuareg rebellion.
April: Rebels take advantage of the disarray after the coup and take control of northern Mali. They declare independence and begin enforcing strict sharia law. Experts warn that the extremists will use the area as a base to plot terror attacks in Africa and Europe.
May 26: Rebels and an Islamist militant group, Ansar Dine, agree to merge and create an independent state in the north. Pact falls apart days later.
June-July: Ansar Dine and its Al-Qaida ally claim control over northern Mali, oust rebels and destroy Muslim shrines that offend its puritan views.
Jan 4: Ansar Dine begins to push farther south and suspends cease-fire agreement with government.
Friday: French president announces military intervention.