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Russia’s Wagner mercenaries landing in Niger? No, ‘breaking news’ video shot in 2006

IN SHORT: Niger’s coup leaders did reportedly ask Russia’s Wagner mercenaries help them hold on to power. But a video circulating online with the claim it shows a planeload of Wagner soldiers landing in Niger in 2023 is 17 years old.

A grainy video of a large plane descending over a dusty city has been circulating on social media since early August 2023 with the claim it’s a “leaked” clip of a Russian plane landing in the West African country of Niger, carrying Wagner group mercenaries.

“BREAKING: Video Footage LEAKED barely an hour ago is presumably the landing of the Il-76 military transport aircraft in Niger, purportedly carrying Wagner PMC fighters,” a typical caption reads.

The claim can be seen on YouTube, on Facebook (here, here, here and here) and on X – previously known as Twitter – here, here and here.

In late July Niger’s elected government was toppled in a military coup.

President Mohamed Bazoum and other political leaders were arrested, the country’s constitution suspended and state institutions shuttered. General Omar Tchiani declared himself the country’s new leader of a junta, or military government.

The Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, which includes Niger, quickly condemned the coup. On 30 July Ecowas gave the junta a week to restore democratic order or risk military intervention. But the deadline expired with no action taken.

In that week the junta reportedly asked Russia’s Wagner PMC to help them hold on to power. PMC or private military company is a euphemism for soldiers for hire or mercenaries.

Wagner is reported to be a proxy force of Russia’s government. The group has fought in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the Syrian civil war.

Since 2017, Wagner mercenaries have been active in several African countries, most notably Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mali, which borders Niger to the west.

On 23 August 2023 Yevgeny Prigozhin and other leaders of the Wagner group were killed in a plane crash.

But does the video circulating on social media show an “Il-76 military transport aircraft” landing in Niger in August 2023, “purportedly carrying Wagner PMC fighters”?


Transport plane landing in Sudan during civil war

The Ilyushin Il-76 is a Russian military transport plane first flown in 1976.

Africa Check took a screenshot of the first frame of the video and searched for the source on Google Lens.

This led us to a YouTube video uploaded on 5 August 2006 – 17 years ago.

The video is titled “IL 76 Approach into Khartoum”. No more detail is given.

Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. In 2006, the country was still in a decades-long civil war. Five years later, in 2011, it split into two countries: Sudan and South Sudan.

The video has been online since at least 2006, and was possibly filmed in Khartoum. It has nothing to do with the 2023 coup in Niger.

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