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The Khost rebellion[4], also known as the 1924 Mangal uprising[9] was an uprising in Southern Province, Afghanistan, which lasted from March 1924 to January 1925. It was fought by the Mangal Pashtun tribe, later joined by the Sulaiman Khel, Ali Khel, Jaji, Jadran and Ahmadzai tribes, and was against the westernizing reforms of King Amanullah. After causing the death of over 14,000 Afghans, the revolt was finally quelled in January 1925.

Khost rebellion
Southern Province, Afghanistan.png
A map of Southern Province, Afghanistan, where most of the fighting took place.
DateMarch 1924 – 30 January 1925 [a]

Afghan Government victory

  • Execution of rebel leaders
  • Various reforms delayed

 Emirate of Afghanistan

Allied tribes:

Rebel tribes

Commanders and leaders
Units involved

Royal Army

  • "Model Battalion"[7]
Afghan Air Force[8]
10,000 – 30,000
(Not all loyal, or fit for service)[3]
(Initial - Mangal tribe only)[3]
Casualties and losses
At least 671 killed[3] At least 300 killed[3]
Total dead:
At least 1,100[3]

It was the first war to involve the Afghan Air Force[8].



There were multiple reasons for the rebellion, including opposition to the Westernizing reforms made by King Amanullah of Afghanistan[4], a code promulgated in 1923 called the "Nizamnama", which granted women more freedom and allowed the government to regulate other issues seen as family problems, which were formerly handled by religious authorities[3], a new law which restricted passage for the eastern tribes across the Durand Line,[6] the abolition of polygamy and child marriage[6], the imposition of property taxes[6], the "insolent, brazen and deceitful" actions of district chiefs, governors, and military officers[6], the bribery of ministers, judges and clerks[6], ignoring the pleas of "the needy"[6], the increase of costums duties[6], a military draft[6], and other regulations which were aimed at "ending strife and violence"[6].

According to the contemporary Afghan historian Fayz Muhammad, the immediate cause of the revolt laid in a dispute, where a man from the Mangal tribe claimed he was betrothed to a woman, declaring the he had been engaged with her since childhood. Some of this man's enemies went to the governor of the southern province, Amr al-Din, and the qazi-magistrate, Mulla Abd Allah, and disputed this claim. With consent of the fiancée, Amr-al Din rejected this claim, however, Mulla Abd Allah had been bribed to see that the fiancée had been betrothed, and complained that this rejection violated the Sharia, but this complaint was ignored, which led Mulla to make up his mind to instigate a rebellion.[6]


Uprising beginsEdit

With the new code in one hand and the Koran in the other, they called the tribes to choose between the word of God and that of man, and adjured them to resist demands, the acceptance of which would reduce their sons to slavery in the Afghan army and their daughters to the degrading influence of Western education.

— British minister in Kabul, reporting to London.[5]

In mid-March 1924[3], the city of Khost, where protests had been ongoing since autumn 1923, erupted in an open rebellion against the government, led by Mulla Abd Allah.[5] With appeals to Pashtun honour, incitements, and promises of paradise for true-believing Muslims, Mulla succeeded at raising all the tribes of the Southern Province against the Afghan government.[6] Initially, the government did not take the uprising seriously, but by the end of March 1924 they had come to understand the seriousness of the situation.[5]

By mid-April, the entire Southern Province had begun participating in the rebellion.[5] That same month, forces loyal to King Amanullah managed to defeat the Rebels, but could not rout them.[4] The Rebels were then joined by the Alikhel and Sulaimankhel tribes.[4] On 22 April, the rebels successfully ambushed a government regiment, inflicting severe casualties while suffering 20 deaths.[3] On 27 April, an indecisive battle saw the rebels suffer 60 casualties against 7 government deaths and 27 wounded.[3] As resistance increased, the Afghan government sent a delegation to the rebels, arguing that Amanullah's reforms had not been in conflict with the Sharia, but these negotiations proved fruitless.[5]

The Loya–JergaEdit

In the midst of the rebellion, King Amanullah summoned an assembly of tribal and religious leaders, a Loya–Jerga, which he hoped would help legitimize his policies and therefore counter Mulla's religious claims.[5] To his surprise, the majority of Ulama attending the assembly demanded the nullification of the reforms,[5] which led Amanullah reluctantly withdraw some of his policies and begin negotiations in early June.[3] On 20 June, peace talks broke down, and fighting resumed four days later.[3]

Rise of Abd-al KarimEdit

In July, Abd-al Karim, the son of an ex-king of Afghanistan who was forced into exile in 1879, crossed from British India into Afghanistan to assume leadership of the rebellion and contest the throne of Afghanistan.[5] at the end of that month, the Rebel tribes had cut communication lines between Kabul and Gardiz and advanced into the southern end of the Logar valley.[5] Around this time, Mulla Abd Allah had been surpassed by Abd-al Karim as the leader of the revolt, and had been reduced to an advisory role.[5] A battle on 13 July saw the Royal army lose 250 troops.[3] A small government force was wiped out at Bedak on 2 August, and a larger force was destroyed soon after.[3]

Habibullāh Kalakāni, future king of Afghanistan, also fought in the rebellion. At the time, he served with the Royal Army's "Model Battalion" and served with distinction.[10] Nevertheless, he deserted the unit at some unspecified time, and after working in Peshawar moved to Parachinar (on the Afghan border) where he was arrested and sentenced to eleven months imprisonment.[7]

Ali Ahmad Khan, who had earlier played a leading role in the negotiations for the controversial Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 which ended the Third Anglo-Afghan War[11] rallied the Khogyani and Shinwari to help quell the rebellion.[12]

In Autumn 1924, the Rebellion had reached its height.[13]

End of the uprisingEdit

On 11 August 1924,[3] King Amanullah declared holy war against the Rebels.[4] Heavy fighting took place from 23 to 26 August, and 4 days later 1500 troops under Mir Zamer Khan defected to the government.[3] In October, the Rebels managed to destroy an Afghan military detachment, and it seemed that the rebellion would march on Kabul.[14] Nevertheless, the rebellion was finally quelled on 30 January 1925[5] with the imprisonment and execution of 40 Rebel leaders.[b][15] Abd-al Karim evaded capture and fled back into the British Raj.[16] Tom Lansford attributes the defeat of the rebels to the Royal Army's superior weapons and training.[15]


Over the course of the Rebellion, which Fayz Muhammad described as being suppressed "only with great difficulty",[9] 14,000 people had perished,[6] and the Afghan government lost £5 million in state revenue.[14] Although unsuccessful, it succeeded in delaying many of the king's reforms until 1928.[4]

Alleged British involvementEdit

During the rebellion, The Afghan government portrayed rebel leaders as traitors seeking to serve British interests, and that the campaigns against the rebels were undertaken in the defense of Afghanistan against British influence. In British Raj however, it was generally suspected that the Soviet Union was responsible for providing financial and military aid to the rebels, while in the Soviet Union, the blame was put on Britain. Senzil Nawid writes that despite claims of British involvement by Afghan historians and the contemporary Afghan press, "neither the press reports nor Afghan historians have provided corroborating evidence for this theory".[5]


Result Date Location Government strength Rebel strength Government losses Rebel losses Source
Rebel victory 22 April 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown "Severe casualties" 20 deaths [3]
Inconclusive 27 April 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown 7 killed, 26 wounded 60 killed or wounded [3]
Government victory April 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown [4]
Unknown 23 - 26 August 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown [3]
Rebel victory 25 August 1924 Kulangar Unknown Unknown 2 battalions Unknown [3]
Government victory
  • The Ahmadzai tribe withdraws from the rebellion
16 - 17 September 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown 100 klled 400 - 500 killed [3]
Government victory 18 - 21 September 1924 Unknown Unknown 3000 11 killed or wounded 40 killed or wounded [3]
Rebel victory October 1924 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown [14]
Rebel victory 9-10 November 1924 Unknown Unknown 500-600 50-65 killed or wounded Unknown [3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ These are the dates provided by Frank Clements[4] and Senzil Nawid[5], which can not logically be more than 10 months. However, Fayz Muhammad stated in his memoirs that the rebellion lasted 1 year and 2 months, and only gave the start date as "1924" without specifying an end date.[6] Jeffrey S. Dixon and Meredith Reid Sarkees give the start date as 15 March 1924 and the end date as March 1925.[3]
  2. ^ This statement is contradicted by "A Guide to Intra-state Wars: An Examination of Civil, Regional, and Intercommunal Wars, 1816-2014", which makes no mention of the execution of rebel leaders in January 1925 and instead says that the government started a new offensive in February 1925 after the failure of peace talks in December, and then goes on to conclude that the rebellion had been crushed by March 1925.[3]


  1. ^ Poullada, Leon B. (1973). Reform and rebellion in Afghanistan, 1919-1929: King Amanullah's failure to modernize a tribal society. Cornell University Press. p. 123. ISBN 9780801407727.
  2. ^ Chua, Andrew. "The Promise and Failure of King Amanullah's Modernisation Program in Afghanistan" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-03-29. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Dixon, Jeffrey S.; Sarkees, Meredith Reid (2015-08-12). A Guide to Intra-state Wars: An Examination of Civil, Regional, and Intercommunal Wars, 1816-2014. CQ Press. pp. 475, 476. ISBN 9781506317984.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Frank Clements (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: A historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-85109-402-8. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Nawid, Senzil. "The Khost Rebellion. The Reaction of Afghan Clerical and Tribal Forces to Social Change" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Muḥammad, Fayz̤; Hazārah, Fayz̤ Muḥammad Kātib (1999). Kabul Under Siege: Fayz Muhammad's Account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. pp. 13 and 14. ISBN 9781558761551.
  7. ^ a b Muḥammad, Fayz̤; Hazārah, Fayz̤ Muḥammad Kātib (1999). Kabul Under Siege: Fayz Muhammad's Account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 32. ISBN 9781558761551.
  8. ^ a b Adamec, Ludwig W. (2010-04-07). The A to Z of Afghan Wars, Revolutions and Insurgencies. Scarecrow Press. p. 51. ISBN 9781461731894.
  9. ^ a b Muḥammad, Fayz̤; Hazārah, Fayz̤ Muḥammad Kātib (1999). Kabul Under Siege: Fayz Muhammad's Account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 31. ISBN 9781558761551.
  10. ^ Shahrani, M. Nazif (1986). "State Building and Social Fragmentation in Afghanistan: A Social Perspective". In Ali Banuazizi; Myron Weiner (eds.). The State, Religion, and Ethnic Politics: Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. p. 57. Archived from the original on 2019-01-19. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  11. ^ Muḥammad, Fayz̤; McChesney, R. D. (1999). Kabul under siege: Fayz Muhammad's account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 50. ISBN 9781558761544.
  12. ^ Muḥammad, Fayz̤; McChesney, R. D. (1999). Kabul under siege: Fayz Muhammad's account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 52. ISBN 9781558761544.
  13. ^ Poullada, Leon B. (1973). Reform and rebellion in Afghanistan, 1919-1929: King Amanullah's failure to modernize a tribal society. Cornell University Press. p. 94. ISBN 9780801407727.
  14. ^ a b c Johnson, Robert (2011-12-12). The Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 190. ISBN 9780199798568.
  15. ^ a b Lansford, Tom (2017-02-16). Afghanistan at War: From the 18th-Century Durrani Dynasty to the 21st Century. ABC-CLIO. p. 266. ISBN 9781598847604.
  16. ^ Barfield, Thomas (2010-03-29). Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. Princeton University Press. p. 187. ISBN 9781400834532.