Post misleads about Ethiopia unrest by rehashing old protest photos in video clip

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A Facebook post with a link to a video claims the footage shows Ethiopian soldiers fighting militias in the Amhara region in May 2023. This is false: the clip contains old photos of protests in South Africa and the Oromia region respectively. There is no visual evidence in the clip of fighting, however.

The post features the English hashtag "#Breakingnews".

Switching to Afaan Oromoo, it then says that the "Fano extremist group has engaged in fierce fighting by blocking many towns". Fano is a local militia in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region.

Screenshot of the false post, taken on May 10, 2023

The post, published on Facebook on May 4, 2023, also asks users to watch an attached YouTube video.

Amhara tensions

On May 4, 2023, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said (archive here) that clashes took place between Ethiopian troops and local armed forces in the Amhara region, resulting in civilian deaths and damage to property.

A day later, international media reports (archived here) said talks were held in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region, between the federal government's defence forces and Fano representatives to resolve the conflict.

However, the video doesn’t show fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and local armed groups.

Unrelated photos

AFP Fact Check has reviewed the YouTube video attached to the post and established that it carries news stories about public protests and roadblocks in Gonder, Debre Birhan and Debre Sina towns in Amhara region.

The demonstrations began in April 2023 and were directed against the federal government's decision to disarm the regional security forces.

By using the video verification tool InVID-WeVerify and running reverse image searches on keyframes from the video, AFP Fact Check found that the footage comprises old and unrelated photos of different events.

Some 60 seconds into the video, a photo appears showing protests in 2015 in Ethiopia's Oromia region.

From left to right, screenshot of original photo and screenshot of false footage, taken on May 10, 2023

The image was first used by, a blog covering stories related to the Oromo protests.

According to the caption, the photo shows government security forces dispersing protesting youth in Ambo city, Oromia region in 2015.

The Oromo protests began as a political movement in Ethiopia and played an important role in achieving the political reforms in 2018 that ushered in the premiership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The video also contained a photo taken in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The reverse image search results revealed that the photo (archived here) was originally captured by an AFP photo stringer in South Africa on October 10, 2007, and archived by Getty Images.

The screenshots show from top to bottom the original photo and the false footage, taken on May 10, 2023

The description attached to the photo says it shows police in South Africa firing rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse students protesting on the Kingsway Campus of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 2007 against a planned increase in tuition fees.

Two other photos used in the video were recently debunked by AFP Fact Check ( here and here) and shown to be of federal troops in the Tigray region securing federal facilities in Mekelle and Ethiopian police officers in the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Screenshots of the false footage, taken on May 10, 2023

Reverse image search results show that some photos used in the video, however, depict the recent unrest in Amhara. (here and here)

screenshot of a post containing photos related to recent protests in Amhara region

But actual scenes of fighting are not a part of the video.