A Facebook page with more than 11 thousand followers shared an image on September 8 saying that gunshots were heard accompanied by heavy artillery shelling in Mekelle. The post also adds that the shooting was audible as far as Abala town of the Afar region, approximately 49 Km from Mekelle.
However, the image is found to be inaccurate and the post is rated as False.
The Ethiopian federal government has been at war with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) since November 2020 following TPLF’s alleged attack on the Ethiopian National Defence Forces’(ENDF) northern command. After three weeks of armed conflict, the federal government occupied the regional capital, Mekelle, and most parts of the regional state. Sustaining an eight-month prolonged war with TPLF, the Ethiopian government announced its decision to withdraw troops from the region and declared a unilateral ceasefire.
As the ENDF confirmed its withdrawal from the region, the TPLF claimed to have regained control of the regional capital on 28 June 2021. The saga of the conflict had continued spilling over to the neighboring Afar and Amhara regional states. The Facebook post has been shared in the context of this narrative, putting forward its claim of shootings and artillery shelling. Nevertheless, a reverse image search of the picture revealed that the image was first published in a report by VOA Amharic on November 16, 2020. The report stated that an airstrike was carried out in Mekele town, at which one person is killed and some houses were burnt down.
Therefore, the Facebook post’s claim of gunshots and heavy artillery shelling in Mekele is rated False, given its use of an inaccurate image to support the claim.