Armed fighting in Gojjam, Amhara

HaqCheck found and investigated an image-backed claim posted on Facebook on June 16, 2023. The Facebook post, sharing a picture, claimed that there was armed fighting between Fano militias and the Ethiopian military troops in Eastern Gojjam, Amhara region.

The viral Facebook claim added that the Ethiopian troops deployed into the area were routed and forced to retreat.

The claim came out against a backdrop of recent armed clashes and protests in the Amhara region.

News reports indicate that there were armed confrontations in East and West Gojjam zones of the region in which protesters were killed by security personnel and armed militias killed Ethiopian army soldiers.

Particularly, after the Ethiopian government began demobilizing regional special police forces, there have been resistance and clashes in the Amhara region. It was followed by widespread protest and armed clashes between the Ethiopian government’s armed forces and informal armed militias.

Additionally, social media claims say that the Ethiopian government has been deploying troops into the Gojjam zones of the region to disarm militant groups.

However, the image was old and was published on social media platforms years ago. The picture doesn’t prove the claim.

The image was published for the first time on Twitter on Nov 23, 2021, when Fano militias, alongside the Ethiopian and Eritrean armed forces, were fighting against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces. It was shared on the platform in this context.

The same image with opposing claims and competing narratives

On June 10, 2023, Addis Standard, a local news outlet, reported that at least five people were killed and other dozens were wounded in a fresh attack in the Amuru district of the Horo Guduru Wollega, Oromia regional state.

The report stated that residents told that the attack in which properties were destroyed, and houses were burned and looted was perpetrated by Fano militants.

The two Wollega zones of the Oromia regional state have been ridden by recurrent conflicts, horrific acts of violence, and mass displacement. Many people were massacred in various Wollega zones.

In this context, pictures of bones and skeletons of dead bodies were shared on social media platforms with claims that the remains belong to the victims of the recent attack in Wollega.

One of the images was shared on Facebook and Twitter with opposing claims (claim and counterclaim).

The image was posted on Facebook on June 9, 2023, with a claim that human remains belong to Oromos who were killed in an attack in the Kiramu Woreda in Wollega.

On June 13, 2023, the same image was shared on Twitter with an opposing claim that the image show corpses of Amhara people who were massacred in the Kiremu Woreda being collected and burned down.

The same image was shared with opposing claims to cement competing narratives in the Ethiopian media landscape. As events happen, conflicts claims and competing narratives usually follow.


HaqCheck recommends social media users be skeptical and exercise caution when they encounter controversial claims and possibly misleading information. They should look for additional sources and information to confirm if the information at hand is authentic. They should always avoid quick reactions to such posts.

The lack of information from government offices adds fuel to the existing disinformation dissemination and toxic media landscape. We urge government offices and other relevant institutions to offer sufficient and up-to-date information and explanations. There should be timely press briefings on a regular basis.

The Ethiopian government and other civil society organizations are also advised to work towards guaranteeing the right of the public access to information.

Social media content creators and influencers should be responsible while sharing media content and avoid circulating misleading or unverified information.

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