TIMELINE-Ethnic and religious unrest in Nigeria

January 23, 2010
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A man and his daughter outside a burned house in Jos,20 Jan 2010/Akintunde Akinleye

Four days of clashes this week between Christian and Muslim mobs armed with guns, knives and machetes killed hundreds of people in Jos and surrounding communities before the military was deployed to contain the violence. At least 460 people have been reported killed

The unrest around the capital of Plateau state, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria’s Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, underscores the fragility of Africa’s most populous nation as it approaches the campaign period for 2011 elections with uncertainty over who is in charge.  President Umaru Yar’Adua has been receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for two months.

Following is a timeline of religious and ethnic violence in Nigeria:

2000 – Thousands killed in northern Nigeria as non-Muslims opposed to the introduction of Islamic sharia law fight Muslims who demand its implementation in the northern state of Kaduna.

Sept. 2001 – Christian-Muslim violence flares after Muslim prayers in Jos, with churches and mosques set on fire. According to a Sept. 2002 report by a panel set up by Plateau state government, at least 915 people were killed in the rioting.

Nov. 2002 – Nigeria decides to abandon the Miss World contest in Abuja. At least 215 people die in rioting in the northern city of Kaduna following a newspaper article suggesting the Prophet Mohammad would probably have married one of the Miss World beauty queens if he were alive today.

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A truck attached while transporting tomatoes in Jos, 20 Jan 2010/Akintunde Akinleye

May 2004 – Hundreds of people, mostly Muslim Fulanis, are killed by Christian Tarok militia in the central Nigerian town of Yelwa. Survivors say they buried 630 corpses. Police say hundreds were killed.

— Muslim and Christian militants fight street battles later the same month in the northern city of Kano. Christian community leaders say 500-600 people, mostly Christians, were killed in the two days of rioting by Muslims.

Feb. 2006 – A week of rioting by Muslim and Christ.ian mobs claims at least 157 lives. The violence begins in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, when a Muslim protest against Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad runs out of control. Revenge attacks follow in the south.

Nov. 2008 – Clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs triggered by a disputed local government chairmanship election kill at least 400 people in the central city of Jos.

Feb. 2009 – The governor of Bauchi state imposes a night curfew on Bauchi city on Feb. 22, a day after clashes kill at least 11 people. At least 28 people were seriously wounded and several houses, churches and mosques burnt down.

July 2009 – Boko Haram, which opposes Western education and demands the adoption of sharia in all of Nigeria, stages attacks in the northeastern city of Bauchi on July 26 after the arrest of some of its members. More than 50 people are killed and over 100 arrested, prompting the Bauchi state governor to impose a night curfew on the state capital.

— Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful”, threatens further attacks against security forces.

— Police in Maiduguri, home of Boko Haram’s leader Mohammed Yusuf, say security forces killed 90 sect members on July 27. In neighbouring Yobe state, police recover the bodies of 33 sect members after a gun battle near the town of Potiskum on July 29.

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Soldier in APC guards Muslims at prayer in the main mosque in Jos, 22 Jan 2010/Akintunde Akinleye

— Yusuf is shot dead while in police detention in Maiduguri on July 30.

— Red Cross and defence officials say that more than 700 people were killed during the five-day Boko Haram uprising.

Dec. 2009 – At least 40 people are killed in clashes between security forces and members of an Islamic sect armed with machetes in the northern city of Bauchi.

Jan. 2010 – At least 460 people are reported killed after clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs in Jos, most by gunfire. Police impose a 24-hour curfew, enforced by hundreds of soldiers and police. The violence started after an argument between Muslim and Christian neighbours over rebuilding homes destroyed in the 2008 clashes.

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