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- January - Joseph Kony founds the Lord's Resistance Army and begins an insurgency against the Ugandan government.
- January 22 - The Mendiola Massacre takes place.
- February 22 - The communist Derg military junta of Ethiopia is dissolved. A new constitution is drafted, reorganizing the country into the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with former Derg Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam as president.
- July 15 - The Kuomintang declares the White Terror to be over, ending 38 years of martial law in Taiwan.
- August 19 - Hungerford massacre
- September 11 - Muammar Gaddafi withdraws his forces from Chad after a ceasefire between Chad and Libya is agreed upon. Control of the Aouzou Strip is returned to Chad.
- September 30 - Mohammad Najibullah is sworn in as President of Afghanistan.
- October 11 - The Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea is established as the ruling political party of Equatorial Guinea.
- October 15 - Thomas Sankara is deposed as President of Burkina Faso and murdered. Blaise Compaoré declares himself president.
- November 7 - Zine El Abidine Ben Ali declares himself President of Tunisia after ousting President Habib Bourguiba in a bloodless coup.
- December 7 - David Burke hijacks Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 and forces it to crash in San Luis Obispo County near Cayucos, California, killing himself along with all 43 passengers and 5 crew.
- December 8 - Beginning of the First Intifada.
- December 22 - The Gukurahundi comes to an end when Robert Mugabe signs the Unity Accords with Ndebele rebel leader Joshua Nkomo. Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) would merge with Mugabe's ZANU to form the ZANU-PF.
- December 22 to 28 - Ronald Gene Simmons Sr. goes on a killing rampage, murdering 16 people (including 14 members of his own family) over a week-long period in Arkansas in 1987.
- Unknown - The Rwandan Patriotic Front is founded.
- January 22 - Ray Rice
- June 14 - Rizwan Farook
- July 13 - Ajmal Kasab
- July 14 - Adam Johnson
- July 17 - Gavin Eugene Long
- July 29 - Claudia Ochoa Felix
- August 16 - Joran van der Sloot
- September 30 - Eddie Ray Routh
- December 13 - James Holmes
- February 7 - Sandra Bland
- November 4 - Jennifer Laude