Photo shows victims of Kenyan gang attack, not Fulani terrorists in Nigeria

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Nigeria in recent years has seen an uptick in deadly clashes between extremists from nomadic Fulani communities and locals, including in the country's southeast where separatists fuel calls for secession with incendiary claims. A recent Facebook post purports to show photos of “two Fulani terrorist kidnappers” and weapons seized from them. But the claim is false: one of the images is of two men attacked in Kenyan gang violence this year, the other of weapons seized in Kenya in 2021.

“Two Fulani Terrorists Kidnappers Trying To Smuggle Ammunitions Into Enugwu State For Possible Kidnappings And Killing Of Biafrans Has Been Captured By BVD Men On Ground Tonight 21st November 2022 (sic),” reads the Facebook post published on November 21, 2022.

A screenshot showing the false Facebook post, taken on November 24, 2022

It features two photos: one shows two men with bloodied heads sitting on the ground and the other a cache of weapons, including bullets and AK 47 rifles.

The post, shared more than 195 times, was published by an account backing the secessionist movement and has been the subject of a debunk by AFP Fact Check.

Biafran Vigilante Drillers (BVD), credited with the purported arrest, is a militant group agitating for independence in southeastern Nigeria. The region has five states including “Enugwu” (officially spelt Enugu) where the “terrorists” were captured.

Several accounts affiliated with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) — another pro-secessionist militant group — shared the same pictures with similar messaging here, here and here.

IPOB itself has a history of disinformation campaigns, with several claims such as this one debunked by AFP Fact Check.

The post was published a day after an attack on a police station in Enugu left three policemen dead. Police spokesman Daniel Ndukwe blamed IPOB for the killings.

Elsewhere in the state, villagers were killed in a separate attack on the same day. Local media said suspected herdsmen were responsible.

But the claim that the photos show Fulani kidnappers arrested in Enugu with a stash of weapons is false.

Photos from Kenya

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches and found the pictures were unrelated to Nigeria.

On August 27, 2022, Kenyan news site The Star published the photo of the two bleeding men along with another image showing one of them in a hospital.

The report explained that they had been attacked by a “panga-wielding youth gang” in a district of Mombasa, Kenya.

A screenshot of the report published by The Star shows one of the men in the hospital, taken on November 24, 2022

The photo of the weapons, meanwhile, was tweeted along with three others by a Kenyan journalist on March 30, 2021.

The tweet said the arms were seized from “three suspects” in Lagdera, a district in Kenya’s Garissa county, which borders Somalia.

The Star also published a story about the arrest but without the photo. According to the site, the trio were of Somali origin and caught smuggling “eight AK-47 assault rifles with eight empty magazines, 2,104 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 20 litres of petrol” into the country.

Garissa county was the scene of one of the deadliest Al-Shabaab attacks on Kenya soil. The jihadist group based in Somalia killed 148 people at Garissa University College on April 2, 2015.

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