July 30, 2009 / 4:55 PM / 10 years ago

TIMELINE: Ethnic and religious unrest in Nigeria

(Reuters) - Security forces in northern Nigeria on Thursday battled the remnants of an Islamic sect following days of unrest which have killed more than 180 people and displaced thousands.

Following is a timeline of major religious and ethnic violence in Nigeria, a country divided into at least 200 ethnic groups and about evenly split between Muslims and Christians:

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.

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

November 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.

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 bloody 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.

February 2006 - A week of rioting by Muslim and Christian 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.

November 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.

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

July 2009 - Boko Haram, which means “education illegal,” 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 opposes Western education and demands the adoption of sharia in all of Nigeria, 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 neighboring Yobe state, police recover the bodies of 33 sect members after a gun battle near the town of Potiskum on July 29. Some 30 people also have died in Kano.

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