There was a Facebook post made on 19 May 2021 by a Facebook page named Ogaadenia Media (a page with more than 77,000 followers). The first picture posted showed people armed wearing civilian clothes while the second showed armed people with Ethiopian military uniforms. The text is written in Somali reads “BREAKING NEWS, The Benishangul Gumuz rebels have killed 32 Ethiopian soldiers in the village of Al Mahala in the Guba district, which borders the Nile River. It is also said that the fighting “claimed the lives of 10 civilians” and that there were many casualties, although no official figures were available.” The post also reminds us that in Benishangul, hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed in recent months. Accordingly, it suggests following the page for more updates and to share the content with friends. The post has been shared more than 215 times by the time this article was written. HaqCheck has interrogated the post and concluded the post is FALSE due to the inaccuracy of the images to support the claim.
Of course, there has been a long-standing insurgency in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. Nonetheless, in recent years the insurgency has intensified and resulted in the loss of lives and displacement of many innocent people. Recently, on May 18, it was reported that more than 20 government security forces were killed in Metekel, Guba woreda.
In this context, the image was shared in the areas where several claims have already been made. The post claimed that rebels attacked a military base in Mehala, Benishangul Gumuz, killing 32 Ethiopian defense personnel and 10 civilians while wounding scores of civilians. However, a reverse image search of the Facebook pictures doesn’t prove the claim. The first image was posted by a website named Pachodo.org on 30 October 2017. The picture was taken on August 25, 2017, the day before South Sudanese rebels attacked government forces, on the border with Uganda, South Sudan.
Granted, there have been armed conflicts along the Benishangul region, between government forces and Benishangul rebels. However, HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the images don’t show the Benishangul rebels that killed Ethiopian soldiers. Therefore, it has rendered the post-FALSE due to the usage of an inaccurate image to support the claim.
Fact checked by: Endalkachew Teka
Edited by: Rehobot Ayalew
This article is part of HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe’s multilingual fact-checking initiative, run by its R&D Department.