There was a Facebook post on April 3 2021 by a Facebook page named Sidaama Today (a page with more than 22,000 followers). The picture posted showed a lot of Tanks and Air Force with a text written that reads “ Breaking News, An Armed Eritrean opposition group attacked the SAWA Defence Training Center in the Gash-Barka region of Eritrea a few hours ago. Several Ethiopian & Eritrean soldiers were killed and wounded. Eritrean government did not respond to requests for comment on this situation.’’ HaqCheck interrogated the post and concluded the post is FALSE due to the inaccuracy of the images to support the claim.
Granted, there has been conflict in the Tigray region between the Federal government and the TPLF led Tigray special police force and militia since 4 November 2020. There have also been reports claiming Eritrean soldiers have been involved in the military operation in Tigray supporting the federal government. Despite these claims, however, the Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied that Eritrean forces were involved in the military operation for a long time. However, on the sixth working year, 11th sessions of the House of peoples’ representative held on 23 March 2021, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D) stated in a parliamentary session that Eritrean troops had entered Tigray during the government’s “rule of law” Operation in Tigray, provoked by rocket attacks aimed at Asmara by TPLF forces. As the Prime Minister clarified, the Eritrean government crossed Ethiopian borders in order to prevent further attacks and maintain its national security. Following this, on 26 March 2021, during the prime minister’s visit to Eritrea, it was announced that the government of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces out of the Ethiopian border. There were also unproven claims that an armed force named Eritrean Movement For Justice carried out an attack targeting 150 Ethiopian soldiers who were taking training in Sawa Training camp of Eritrea on 29 March 2021.
It is in this context that the image was shared claiming the Eritrean opposition forces attacked the Eritrean military training center in SAWA, killing and injuring Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers. However, a reverse image search of the picture used in the Facebook post doesn’t prove the claim. The image was first posted on TesfaNews, Eritrean news and information website, on 16 August 2020 with a story of how National service is a guarantee for Eritreans national security and development and was taken at the annual National service program, while the military was performing a military show. The original post related to the image can be found with the following link.
Despite there being unproven claims that an attack was carried out targeting Ethiopian soldiers who were taking training in Sawa Training camp of Eritrea, HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the image doesn’t show an armed Eritrean group that attacked Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers at SAWA defense training of Eritrea, therefore, rendering the post as FALSE due to the inaccuracy of the 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.