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Images from 2022 shared as a recent attack in Nigeria

Old images went viral after bandits attacked several villages

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Claim: Social media posts contain two images claiming to show an attack on a church during Christmas this year in Nigeria.

Fact: The claim is false as the images are not related to the recent attack. The original pictures date back to the 2022 attack on a church.

[Trigger warning: This fact-check contains graphic content showing blood stains.]

On 27 December 2023, a Facebook user posted two images (archive) of a church with the caption, “New photos from within a church in Nigeria where at Christmas Christians were massacred in the name of Allah. Around 150 are confirmed dead so far, properties & farms were looted and burned. As we celebrate with family and friends this holiday season remember there are those who were martyred because they loved Jesus. Pray for Nigeria.” 

The image shows the inside building of a church after an attack. One photo shows blood stains on the floor, while the other shows a destroyed church.

The claim went viral after armed groups killed at least 160 people and 300 injured in central Nigeria in a series of attacks on several villages. The attacks started on Saturday, 23 December, in the Bokkos area and spilled over into neighbouring Barkin Ladi, Nigeria.

Fact or Fiction?

To investigate, Soch Fact Check conducted a reverse image search on Google. The results showed an article by CBS Austin published on 6 June 2022, which states that over 50 people were killed during an attack on St Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state on 5 June 2022. The incident took place during Sunday mass in the southwest region of Nigeria.

Al-Jazeera’s news report from 6 June 2022, also features one of the two images. According to Al-Jazeera, many women and children were killed after gunmen with explosives stormed the church.

The same pictures were also featured on the stock image website, Alamy, with the caption, “A view of the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo Nigeria, Sunday, June 5, 2022.” The images were credited to Associated Press photographer, Rahaman A Yusuf.

Virality

The old images were misleadingly linked to the recent attack here, and here on Facebook.

On X (formerly Twitter), the claim received 1.9 million views, 32,000 likes and 17,000 reposts. The archived versions can be seen here, here and here.

Conclusion:  The two images in question date back to a 2022 attack on a church; they do not show the aftermath of a recent incident in Nigeria.

 

Background image in cover photo:  AFP

 

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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