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1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1996th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 996th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1990s decade.
1996 was designated as:
- International Year for the Eradication of Poverty
- January 8 – A Zairean cargo plane crashes into a crowded market in the center of the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa, killing 300 people.
- January 9–20 – Serious fighting breaks out between Russian soldiers and rebel fighters in Chechnya.
- January 11 – Ryutaro Hashimoto, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, becomes Prime Minister of Japan.
- January 13 – Italy's Prime Minister, Lamberto Dini, resigns after the failure of all-party talks to confirm him. New talks are initiated by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to form a new government.
- January 14 – Jorge Sampaio is elected President of Portugal.
- January 16 – President of Sierra Leone Valentine Strasser is deposed by the chief of defence, Julius Maada Bio. Bio promises to restore power following elections scheduled for February.
- January 19
- The North Cape oil spill occurs as an engine fire forces the tugboat Scandia ashore on Moonstone Beach in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The North Cape Barge is pulled along with it and leaks 820,000 gallons of home heating oil.
- An Indonesian ferry sinks off the northern tip of Sumatra, drowning more than 100 people.
- January 20 – Yasser Arafat is re-elected president of the Palestinian Authority.
- January 21 – France undertakes its last nuclear weapons test.
- January 22 – Andreas Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece, resigns due to health problems; a new government forms under Costas Simitis.
- January 24 – Polish Premier Józef Oleksy resigns amid accusations that he spied for Moscow. He is replaced by Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
- January 27 – Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara deposes the first democratically elected President of Niger, Mahamane Ousmane, in a military coup.
- January 31
- February 3 – The 6.6 Mw earthquake near Lijiang in South-west China kills up to 322 people, injures 17,000, and leaves 300,000 homeless.
- February 6 – Birgenair Flight 301, on a charter flight from the Caribbean to Germany, crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Dominican Republic, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
- February 7 – René Préval succeeds Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President of Haiti in the first peaceful handover of power since the nation achieved independence 192 years earlier, in 1804.
- February 9
- The element copernicium is created by fusing a 208Pb nucleus with a 70Zn nucleus, forming 278Cn. Given the placeholder name "ununbium", the element is not named until 2010.
- An IRA ceasefire ends with the Docklands bombing in London's Canary Wharf District, killing two people and causing over £85,000,000 worth of damage.
- Disney formally finalizes its $19 billion acquisition of the ABC parent, Capital Cities/ABC Inc.
- February 10 – Bosnian Serbs break off contact with the Bosnian government and with representatives of Ifor, the NATO localised force, in reaction to the arrest of several Bosnian Serb war criminals.
- February 14 – Violent clashes erupt between Filipino soldiers and Vietnamese boat people, as the Filipino government attempts to forcibly repatriate hundreds of Vietnamese asylum seekers.
- February 15
- The American Embassy in Athens, Greece, comes under mortar fire.
- Begum Khaleda Zia is re-elected as Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The country's second democratic election is marred by low voter turnout, due to several boycotts and pre-election violence, which has resulted in at least thirteen deaths.
- The UK government publishes the Scott Report.
- February 17 – The 8.2 Mw Biak earthquake strikes the Papua province of eastern Indonesia with a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). A large tsunami followed, leaving 166 people dead or missing and 423 injured.
- February 24 – Cuban fighter jets shoot down two American aircraft belonging to the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue. Cuban officials assert that they invaded Cuban airspace.
- February 25 – Two suicide bombs in Israel kill 25 and injure 80; Hamas claims responsibility.
- February 29
- March 1 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraqi forces refuse UNSCOM inspection teams access to five sites designated for inspection. The teams enter the sites only after delays of up to seventeen hours.
- March 2 – 1996 Australian federal election: The Liberal/National Coalition led by John Howard defeats the Labor government led by Prime Minister Paul Keating. Howard was sworn in on March 11.
- March 3 – José María Aznar, leader of the Popular Party, is elected as Prime Minister of Spain, replacing Felipe González.
- March 3–4 – Two suicide bombs explode in Israel, killing 32 people. The Yahya Ayyash Units admit responsibility, and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat condemns the killings in a televised address. Israel warns of retaliation.
- March 6
- Mesut Yılmaz of ANAP forms the new government of Turkey (53rd government).
- A boat carrying market traders capsizes outside Freetown harbour in Sierra Leone, killing at least 86 people.
- Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny; 70 Russian soldiers and policemen and 130 Chechen fighters are killed.
- March 8 – China begins surface-to-surface missile testing and military exercises off Taiwanese coastal areas. The United States government condemns the act as provocation, and the Taiwanese government warns of retaliation.
- March 9 – Jorge Sampaio becomes the new Portuguese president.
- March 13 – Dunblane massacre: Unemployed former shopkeeper Thomas Hamilton walks into the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and opens fire, killing sixteen infant school pupils and one teacher before committing suicide.
- March 14 – An international peace summit is held in Egypt in response to escalating terrorist attacks in the Middle East.
- March 15 – Fokker, a major manufacturer of small size aircraft, goes bankrupt in Netherlands.
- March 16 – Robert Mugabe is re-elected as President of Zimbabwe, although only 32% of the electorate actually voted.
- March 17 – Sri Lanka wins the Cricket World Cup by beating Australia in the final.
- March 18 – The Ozone Disco Club fire in Quezon City, Philippines kills 163 people.
- March 22 – Sweden's Finance Minister Göran Persson becomes the new Prime Minister of Sweden.
- March 23 – Taiwan (Republic of China) holds its first direct elections for president; Lee Teng-hui is re-elected.
- March 24 – The Marcopper mining disaster on the island of Marinduque, Philippines takes place.
- March 25 – The 68th Academy Awards, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles with Braveheart winning Best Picture.
- March 26 – The International Monetary Fund approves a $10.2 billion loan to Russia for economic reform.
- April 3
- A Boeing 737 military jet crashes into a mountain north of Dubrovnik, Croatia. All 35 people on board are killed, including United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown.
- Massacres of Hutus by Tutsis in Burundi take place with more than 450 killed within a few days.
- After what was at the time the longest and most expensive investigation in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, is arrested after a tip-off from his brother.
- April 6
- Fighting breaks out in Monrovia, Liberia, between various rebel factions struggling for power in the country's interrupted civil war. Several foreign nationals leave the nation.
- Turkish authorities begin Operation Hawk, a military offensive against rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party in south-east Turkey.
- April 9 – In a common statement, the European Union officially recognises the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
- April 11 – The Israeli government launches Operation Grapes of Wrath, consisting of massive attacks on Lebanon, in retaliation for "terrorist attacks", and sparking off a violent series of retaliations.
- April 18 – Qana massacre: Over 100 Lebanese civilians are killed after Israel shells the United Nations compound in Qana. In reaction, an Islamist group in Egypt opens fire on a hotel, killing eighteen Greek tourists and injuring seventeen others.
- April 21 – A general election in Italy proclaims a new center-left government headed by Romano Prodi, replacing Silvio Berlusconi.
- April 24 – At the urging of Yasser Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization drops its clause calling for the removal of Israel. The Israeli government responds by dropping a similar clause concerning the existence of Palestine.
- April 26 – Shanghai Five group, predecessor of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is created with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
- April 28
- May – Iraq disarmament crisis: UNSCOM supervises the destruction of Al-Hakam, Iraq's main production facility of biological warfare agents.
- May 9
- May 10
- 1996 Everest disaster: A sudden storm engulfs Mount Everest with several climbing teams high on the mountain, leaving eight people dead. By the end of the month, at least four other climbers die in the worst season of fatalities on the mountain to date.
- The Australian government introduces a nationwide ban on the private possession of both automatic and semi-automatic rifles, in response to the Port Arthur massacre.
- May 11 – After takeoff from Miami, a fire started by improperly handled oxygen canisters in the cargo hold of Atlanta-bound ValuJet Flight 592 causes the Douglas DC-9 to crash in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board.
- May 13 – Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh kill 600 people.
- May 17–28 – Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is elected as Prime Minister of India, replacing P. V. Narasimha Rao of the Indian National Congress. However, the party does not receive an overall majority and Vajpayee resigns thirteen days later rather than face a no confidence vote and is replaced by the United Front leader, Deve Gowda.
- May 18 – The X Prize Foundation launches the $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize.
- May 21
- May 23 – Members of the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria kill seven French Trappist monks, after talks with French government concerning the imprisonment of several GIA sympathisers break down.
- May 27 – First Chechnya War: Russian President Boris Yeltsin meets with Chechnyan rebels for the first time and negotiates a ceasefire for the dispute.
- May 28 – Albania's general election of May 26 is declared unfair by international monitors, and the ruling Democratic Party under President Muhannad Ibrahim is charged by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe with rigging the elections. Several hundred protestors gather in Tirana to demonstrate against the election result.
- May 30 – The Likud Party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, wins a narrow victory in the Israeli general election.
- June – Iraq disarmament crisis: As Iraq continues to refuse inspectors access to a number of sites, the United States fails in its attempt to build support for military action against Iraq in the UN Security Council.
- June 1–3 – The Czech Republic's first general election ends inconclusively. Prime Minister Václav Klaus and his incumbent Civic Democratic Party emerge as the winners, but are unable to form a majority government. President Václav Havel refuses to invite Klaus to form a coalition.
- June 4 – The space rocket Ariane 5 explodes forty seconds after takeoff in French Guiana. The project costs European governments $7,500,000,000 over eleven years.
- June 6 – Leighton W. Smith, Jr. resigns as NATO commander in the face of increasing criticism.
- June 8–30 – England hosts the UEFA Euro 1996 football tournament, which is won by Germany.
- June 11
- June 15 – In Manchester, UK, an IRA bomb injures over 200 people and devastates a large part of the city centre.
- June 28
- June 29
- June 30
- July 1
- July 3 – Boris Yeltsin is re-elected as President of Russia after the second round of elections.
- July 5 – Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, UK.
- July 11 – Arrest warrants are issued for Bosnian Serb war criminals Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić by the Russell Tribunal in The Hague.
- July 12 – Hurricane Bertha: made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 storm, causing $270 million in damage ($504 million in present-day terms) to the United States and its possessions and many indirect deaths.
- July 16 – An outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in Japan results in 6,000 children being ill, including two deaths, after a group of school children eat contaminated lunches.
- July 17
- July 19
- July 21 – The Saguenay Flood, one of Canada's most costly natural disasters, is caused by flooding on the Saguenay River in Quebec.
- July 24 – The Dehiwala train bombing kills 56 commuters outside Colombo.
- July 25 – The Tutsi-led Burundian army performs a coup and reinstalls previous president Pierre Buyoya, ousting current president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.
- July 27 – The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in the United States kills one person and injures 111.
- August 1
- August 4 – The 1996 Summer Olympics conclude.
- August 6 – NASA announces that the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, may contain evidence of primitive lifeforms; further tests are inconclusive.
- August 7 – Heavy rains kill more than 80 campers near Huesca, Spain.
- August 9 – Boris Yeltsin is sworn in at the Kremlin for a second term as President of Russia.
- August 13 – Data sent back by the Galileo space probe indicates there may be water on one of Jupiter's moons.
- August 14 – A rocket ignited during a fireworks display in Arequipa, Peru knocks down a high-tension power cable into a dense crowd, electrocuting 35 people.
- August 15 – Bob Dole is nominated for President of the United States, and Jack Kemp for vice president, at the Republican National Convention in San Diego, California.
- August 16 – Brookfield Zoo, Chicago. After a 3-year-old boy falls into the 20-foot (6.1 m) deep gorilla enclosure, Binti Jua, a female lowland gorilla sits with the injured boy until his rescue.
- August 21
- Former State President of South Africa, F. W. de Klerk, makes an official apology for crimes committed under Apartheid to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cape Town.
- In the UK, Queen Elizabeth II issues letters patent on divorced former wives of British princes, taking away from the ex-wives the attribute and style of Royal Highness. With that Sarah, Duchess of York as well as Diana, Princess of Wales legally cease to be Royals, but they remain as non-royal Duchess and Princess.
- August 23 – Osama bin Laden writes "The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places," a call for the removal of American military forces from Saudi Arabia.
- August 26 – Civil Rights Movement historian Randy Kryn and 10 others are arrested by the Federal Protective Service while protesting in a demonstration at the Kluczynski Federal Building in downtown Chicago during that year's Democratic National Convention.
- August 28 – Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales, are formally divorced at the High Court of Justice in London. Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales is restyled Diana, Princess of Wales, due to the Queen's letters patent issued a week earlier.
- August 29
- August 31 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraqi forces launch an offensive into the northern No-Fly Zone and capture Arbil.
- September 2 – A permanent peace agreement is signed at Malacañang Palace between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front.
- September 3 – The United States launches Operation Desert Strike against Iraq in reaction to the attack on Arbil.
- September 4 – The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia attack a military base in Guaviare, Colombia, starting three weeks of guerrilla warfare that will claim the lives of at least 130 Colombians.
- September 5 – Hurricane Fran makes landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina as a Category 3 storm with 115 mph (185 km/h) sustained winds. Fran caused over $3 billion in damages ($5.6 billion in present-day terms) and killed 27 people, mainly in North Carolina. The name "Fran" was retired due to the extensive damage.
- September 7 – Rapper and actor Tupac Shakur attended the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson and afterwards while riding in his brand new 1996 BMW 750iL was shot and injured in a drive-by shooting attack by an unknown assailant. He was left in a critical condition afterwards and died of his injuries at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada six days later on September 13. The murder remains unsolved.
- September 10 – Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signed (it will be ratified 180 days after ratification by 44 Annex 2 countries).
- September 13 – Alija Izetbegović is elected President of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the country's first election since the Bosnian War.
- September 20 – Leader of Pakistani opposition party Pakistan Peoples Party Murtaza Bhutto is killed during a gunfight with police.
- September 22 – The Panhellenic Socialist Movement under the leadership of Costas Simitis succeeds in the 1996 Greek legislative election.
- September 24 – U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at the United Nations.
- September 27 – In Afghanistan, the Taliban capture the capital city of Kabul, after driving out President Burhanuddin Rabbani and executing former leader Mohammad Najibullah.
- September 29 – The Nintendo 64 is released in North America.
- October 2 – Aeroperú Flight 603 crashes into the Pacific Ocean when the instruments fail just after takeoff from Lima Airport, killing all 70 people on board.
- October 6 – The government of New Zealand agrees to pay $130 million worth of compensation for the loss of land suffered by the Māori population between the years of 1844 and 1864.
- October 22 – A fire at La Planta prison in southwest Caracas, Venezuela, kills thirty prisoners.
- October 31 – TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402 crashes into a densely populated area of São Paulo, killing all 96 people on board.
- November – Iraq disarmament crisis: UNSCOM inspectors uncover buried prohibited missile parts. Iraq refuses to allow UNSCOM teams to remove remnants of missile engines for analysis outside of the country.
- November 5 – 1996 United States presidential election: Incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton defeats his Republican challenger, Bob Dole and Reform Party candidate Ross Perot.
- November 7
- November 8 – All 144 people on board a Nigerian-owned Boeing 727 die after the aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while approaching Lagos airport.
- November 12 – Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 collides in mid-air with Kazakhstan Airlines Il-76 in New Delhi, India, resulting in the loss of 349 lives.
- November 17
- November 18 – Frederick Chiluba is re-elected as President of Zambia.
- November 19
- Martin Bryant is sentenced to 35 consecutive sentences of life imprisonment plus 1,035 years without parole for murdering 35 people in a shooting spree in Tasmania earlier this year.
- Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Organization (CTBTO) established.
- STS-80: Space Shuttle Columbia conducts the longest mission of the Space Shuttle program.
- November 20 – The 1996 Garley Building fire occurred in Hong Kong, resulting in 41 deaths and 81 injuries.
- November 21 – A propane explosion at the Humberto Vidal shoe store and office building in San Juan, Puerto Rico kills 33 people.
- November 23
- November 25 – An ice storm strikes the U.S. killing 26 directly and hundreds more from accidents. A powerful windstorm blasts Florida with winds gusts up to 90 mph.
- December 9 – Jerry Rawlings is re-elected as President of Ghana.
- December 11 – Tung Chee-hwa is appointed to become the new leader of Hong Kong after it reverts to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, at the end a 99-year lease to the United Kingdom.
- December 13 – Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan is elected by the United Nations Security Council the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- December 17 – The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement takes 72 hostages in the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru.
- December 25 – At least 283 migrants drown in the sinking of F174 near Capo Passero (Sicily).
- December 26
- December 27 – Taliban forces retake the strategic Bagram Air Base, solidifying their buffer zone around Kabul.
- December 29 – Guatemala and the leaders of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity sign a peace accord that ends the 36-year Guatemalan Civil War.
- December 30 – In the Indian state of Assam, a passenger train is bombed by Bodo separatists, killing 26.
Births and deaths
- Physics – David M. Lee, Douglas D. Osheroff, Robert C. Richardson
- Chemistry – Robert Curl, Sir Harold Kroto, Richard Smalley
- Medicine – Peter C. Doherty, Rolf M. Zinkernagel
- Literature – Wisława Szymborska
- Peace – Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta
- Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel – James Mirrlees, William Vickrey
Right Livelihood Award
- Herman Daly, The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad and George Vithoulkas
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- "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization". Archived from the original on October 16, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
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