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No evidence disturbing photos of injured man were taken in the aftermath of ethnic clashes in Kenya

IN SHORT: Graphic photos going viral in Kenya show a man with several nails driven into his head, with captions suggesting they were taken in the town of Sondu where ethnic clashes have taken place. But there is no evidence the photos are from Kenya.

Warning: This report links to graphic and disturbing images.

Disturbing photos posted on Facebook in Kenya show a man lying on his back with what appear to be several nails hammered into his head. One of the photos shows X-rays, supposedly displaying the extent of the damage caused to his head.

Facebook users in Kenya suggest that the photos are from ethnic clashes that erupted on 4 October 2023 in Sondu and left at least seven people dead. Sondu is a small town in Kisumu county in western Kenya. It lies on the boundary between Kisumu and Kericho counties, which are dominated by two ethnic communities.

“SONDU CLASHES.This young man was caught by adversaries, tied down and someone suggested a death method good for him so, they brought long nails and a hammer, pieced through his skull with 7 nails deep inside one at a time till he couldn't breath anymore..We have Drama like this in Sondu,” one post reads.

The claims have also been posted here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But are the photos from the clashes in Sondu, Kenya? We checked.


No evidence photo taken in Kenya

A reverse image search of the photos reveals they were first posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on 4 October.

The user described the photos as showing a man who was found “having multiple convulsions in his room in a state somewhere in Southern Nigeria”. He explained that nails had been driven into his head in “a possible cultist rival attack”.

The photos started circulating in Kenya a day after the X user had posted them.

We would expect that such a violent act would have been reported by mainstream Kenyan media if it had happened locally, possibly followed by a police statement. But we found no such articles or broadcasts. It was only reported by blogs in Nigeria.

There is no evidence that the incident happened in Kenya.

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