Factional conflict within the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) regime began in the summer and fall of 1978. A number of attempts by Parchamis to oust the Khalqis were reported. The intense rivalry between Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin within the Khalq faction of the PDPA also heated up, culminating in the death -- admittedly the murder -- of Taraki. In September 1979, Taraki's followers, with Soviet complicity, had made several attempts on Amin's life. The final attempt backfired, however, and it was Taraki who was eliminated and Amin, who assumed power in Afghanistan between September 16-18, 1979. The Soviets had at first backed Amin, but they came to believe that he was too rigidly Marxist-Leninist to survive politically in a country as conservative and religious as Afghanistan.
Taraki's death was first noted in the Kabul Times on 10 October and reported that the former leader only recently hailed as the "great teacher...great genius...great leader" had died quietly "of serious illness, which he had been suffering for some time." According to another official account, Amin ordered the commander of the palace guard to have Taraki executed. Taraki reportedly was suffocated with a pillow over his head. Other sources report that Taraki was slain in a gun battle. Amin's emergence from the power struggle within the small divided communist party in Afghanistan alarmed the Soviet and would usher in the series of events which lead to the Soviet invasion.