Bomb plot foiled but no explosion before state funeral for Ugandan military commander

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Posts claiming that a bomb exploded in a Ugandan town ahead of a state funeral for well-known military commander Paul Lokech have been circulating on Facebook alongside an image of a field on fire. But the claim is false: the photo used in the posts is an old Shutterstock image and the purported explosion was later revealed to be a thwarted bomb plot. An AFP correspondent who attended the burial confirmed there was no explosion.

“A Bomb has this evening about 21:40hr exploded from Dok Ilwak Restaurant in Pader Town council the same area where the body of The Late Maj Gen Paul Lokceh will be laid to rest tomorrow (sic),” reads this Facebook post, published on August 26, 2021 — the night before Lokeck’s funeral.

Pader lies about 400 kilometres (248 miles) north of Uganda’s capital Kampala and is the same town where Lokech, a major general nicknamed the “Lion of Mogadishu” for leading an offensive against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia , was buried.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on August 31, 2021

The image in the post shows a large fireball erupting in the middle of open bushveld.

The same post was shared here and here.

No explosion

On August 27, 2021, one day after the purported blast, Ugandan security forces confirmed that, in fact, a suicide bomber in possession of various bomb-making materials had been arrested at a restaurant in Pader. AFP reported the incident here.

An AFP correspondent who attended Lokech’s burial also confirmed that there was no explosion nearby.

“Investigations so far indicate that the suspect had intentions of disrupting the funeral proceedings of the late Maj Gen Paul Lokech,” army spokeswoman Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso said in a statement.

Old image

By conducting a reverse image search of the photo of the purported explosion on TinEye, AFP Fact Check found the picture on Shutterstock where it is available as a stock image.

It has been online since 2013 and the caption reads: “Large fireball with black smoke in bushy hills.”

A screenshot of the original photograph, taken from Shutterstock Images on September 1, 2021