HomeTop StoriesPost falsely claims old video shows Nigerians fleeing kidnapping gangs

Post falsely claims old video shows Nigerians fleeing kidnapping gangs

<span>A screenshot of the false claim, taken on May 23, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/IjYMCXtHS2CH_ZfFDQS0RQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEzMDU-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/78e47adb2f2397 ef2c636989af59c04f”/><span></div>
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A screenshot of the false claim, taken on May 23, 2024

Zurmi, named in the claim, is a town in Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria.

Zamfara state is one of the worst hit by the large-scale kidnappings in northern Nigeria.

The post, published by an opposition supporter named “Serah Ibrahim,” includes a 30-second clip of people walking briskly on dusty ground.

Other X accounts (here and here) echoed the claim.

Weeks before the accusation came to light, armed men attacked the city and attempted to kidnap the emir (archived here). The attackers destroyed electricity and telecommunications facilities after their kidnap attempt failed.

In December 2023, the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) temporarily withdrew some of its staff from the city after fighting escalated around the local hospital (archived here).

Two months earlier, the Nigerian military said about 100 armed men had been killed in the state (archived here).

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The gangs, infamous for mass kidnappings of schools and universities in recent years, maintain camps hidden in a vast forest spanning Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.

But the claim that the video showed people fleeing Zurmi after 500 people were kidnapped is false.

Burkina Faso

To verify the claim, AFP Fact Check took a screenshot of the misleading video and conducted a reverse image search.

We discovered that the video has been online since 2021.

Germany-based charity SAIDA International shared a longer version of the clip on its Facebook page (archived here) on June 8, 2021.

The caption, written in German, explained that the images showed “the people of Burkina Faso” fleeing “in their own country.”

It also included the hashtag #solhan, which suggested the video showed residents of Solhan, a town close to Burkina Faso’s borders with Niger and Mali.

A news outlet from Burkina Faso, Lobs Paalga, published another version of the video on its YouTube channel (archived here) the same day as SAIDA. It said the clip showed “residents of Solhan” fleeing their city.

UNICEF said that on June 5, 2021, 130 people, including many children, were killed in the city by a “non-state armed group” (archived here) allegedly made up of children (archived here).

AFP reported on the incident and estimated the number of deaths at more than 130 (archived here). The report said at least 7,000 people fled Solhan after the bloodiest massacre in Burkina Faso’s six-year-old jihadist insurgency at the time.

The images are repeatedly used to mislead the public about security problems in Nigeria. AFP Fact Check debunked the video in April 2022 when it was similarly used out of context.

At the time, an AFP reporter in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, said the language spoken in the video was Moore, common in parts of Burkina Faso but not spoken in Nigeria.

Zamfara police spokesman Yazid Abubakar did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

The Burkina Faso Uprising

Like Nigeria, Burkina Faso has been grappling with a violent insurgency since 2015, largely fueled by jihadist groups linked to Al-Aaeda and Islamic State (archived here).

These groups have exploited ethnic tensions, weak state presence and local grievances to expand their influence, especially in the northern and eastern regions.

So far, the conflict has forced more than two million people to flee their homes (archived here).

Humanitarian conditions have also deteriorated sharply, with many facing acute food insecurity and limited access to basic services.

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