Thursday, September 8, 2011

TIMELINE-Ethnic and religious unrest in Nigeria's Middle Belt

5 September 2011

Sept 5 (Reuters) - At least 50 people have been killed in spiraling violence between gangs of Christian and Muslim youths and security forces in central Nigeria's volatile Plateau state since last Monday.

Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies in Nigeria's "Middle Belt" where the mostly Muslim north meets the largely Christian south.

While it is usually peaceful, it can sometimes serve as a flashpoint between different ethnic and sectarian groups.

The tension is rooted in fierce competition for local political power and control of fertile farmlands, resentment which local government policies have done little to calm.

Following is a timeline of religious and ethnic violence around the central Jos in the last 10 years:

2000 - Thousands killed in northern Nigeria as non-Muslims opposed to the introduction of Sharia (Islamic 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. At least 1,000 people are killed, according to a Sept. 2002 report by a panel set up by Plateau state government.

Nov. 2002 - Nigeria abandons the Miss World contest in Abuja. The decision follows the death of at least 216 people in rioting in Kaduna, around 200 km (125 miles) northwest of Jos, after a newspaper article suggests the Prophet Mohammad would probably have married one of the Miss World beauty queens if he were alive today.

Nov. 2008 - Clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs triggered by a disputed local government election kill at least 700 people in Jos, according to U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

Jan. 2010 - Hundreds are reported killed after clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs in Jos, most by gunfire. Police estimate the death toll at 326, although some community leaders put the figure at more than 400.

March 2010 - Hundreds of people are killed in clashes between Islamic pastoralists and Christian villagers in the mostly Christian villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Ratsat just south of Jos. Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Gregory Yenlong said more than 300 people had died.

Dec. 2010 - At least 80 people are killed in Dec. 24 bombings as well as in clashes two days later between Muslim and Christian youths in Jos. As of Dec. 27, at least 101 people were being treated for injuries.

Jan. 2011 - Human Rights Watch says that more than 200 people have been killed in the past month. Many are hacked to death or burned alive in attacks on villages and reprisal killings in Plateau state.

Aug.-Sept. 2011 - Thirteen people are killed in clashes btween Christian youths and Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan in Jos, sparking a wave of tit for tat killings. (David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Tim Cocks)

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