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Image of burning cars is from 2014 bomb blast in Nigeria’s Abuja, not refuse dump explosion in 2024

IN SHORT: Some Facebook users claim that a photo of burning cars was taken after an explosion in Maitama, Abuja, in January 2024. But the photo is of a bomb blast that claimed more than 21 lives in 2014,

“Expl0sion rocks Maitama, Abuja today, on Ikeja Cantonment Bomb Blast Remembrance Day,” reads a post on a Facebook page with over 70,000 followers.

The post features a photo of burning vehicles. Maitama is a district in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. 

On 27 January 2022, a fire broke out in a market in Abuja and spread to the nearby Ikeja military cantonment, where “high calibre bombs” were stored. Several bombs detonated and over 1,000 people died trying to flee the scene.

However, the posts claiming there had been another explosion in January 2024 were published before 27 January, the anniversary of the Ikeja blast. 

Nigeria has been grappling with kidnappings, gang attacks and explosions for years. An explosion took place in the Ibadan area of Oyo state on 16 January 2024. According to officials, the explosion was the result of the illegal storage of explosives in a residential area. 

In a separate incident, gunmen attacked some communities in Plateau state on 24 December 2023, killing over 70 people. 

The same claim about a Maitama blast can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. It also made its way to X (formerly Twitter) and received over 30,000 views. 

But does the circulating photo show an explosion in Maitama? We checked.


Image dates back to 2014

Using Google reverse image search, Africa Check found that the image of the burning cars has been online since 2014. According to an NBC News report, at least 21 people were killed in twin car bombings outside an upmarket shopping mall in Abuja on 25 June of that year. Another 52 people were injured. 

We found the same image in a BBC report on the same incident. 

Meanwhile, the Abuja police and the emergency management agency have denied reports of a bomb blast in Maitama in January 2024.

According to officials, a metal refuse container overheated and exploded, injuring two people. No cars were affected in the incident.

Using an image of burning vehicles to illustrate an unrelated event can exaggerate its impact, especially in a country with security challenges, such as Nigeria. Fact-checking helps to ensure that images are properly documented for future reference.

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