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Viral photos don’t show 2023 Plateau state Christmas Eve killings in Nigeria but are from 2022

IN SHORT: Two images widely shared on social media in Nigeria are from an attack on a church in 2022. They are not from the aftermath of the Christmas Eve attack in Plateau state in 2023, in which more than 150 people were killed.

A user has posted photos on Facebook, claiming they show a December 2023 attack in Plateau state, Nigeria.

The post from 27 December reads, in part: “New photos from within a church where at Christmas Christians were massacred in the name of Allah. Around 150 are confirmed dead so far, properties & farms were looted and burned. This is on par with what Hamas did, but the MSM & dancing Western Hamas fans ignore.”

MSM is shorthand for mainstream media.

Suspected terrorists launched an attack on 24 December, killing over 150 people and displacing over 10,000 people. The attacks affected 17 communities in the state and eight suspects have been arrested at time of publication, according to a police spokesperson.

Social media is awash with information about the event and it is in this context that Facebook users are sharing two images, allegedly from the scene of the attack in Plateau state. The first photo shows the interior of a church and the other is of a blood-stained tiled floor.

Similar posts sharing the two photos can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But are the images from the 24 December, or Christmas Eve, attack?


Images date back to 2022

Africa Check did a reverse image search of the images. The photo of the church interior led us to a 2022 report by Voice of Africa (VOA), with the headline “Dozens Feared Dead in Nigeria Church Attack”.

The report, featuring the same image found in the Facebook posts, says over 50 people were killed during an attack on St Francis Catholic church in Ondo state on 5 June 2022.

The reverse image of the blood-stained tiled floor led us to a report by AP News about the same 2022 church attack. It includes several images of the same blood-stained floor.

We found several other news reports about the Ondo church attack with both images. While the images show a terrorist attack on a church in Nigeria, they are from June 2022, not December 2023. 

Using photos out of context from a different event misrepresents facts and compromises the accuracy of information. Fact-checking ensures that the details associated with a specific incident, especially security matters, remain accurate.

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