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Viral video is old, online since 2022, and unrelated to school massacre in Uganda

IN SHORT: A video of armed men walking uphill through the bush has been circulating with the claim it shows rebels who carried out a massacre at a Ugandan school. However, the video is old; it was posted online at least a year before the attack.

On 16 June 2023, suspected rebels attacked Lhubirira secondary school in Mpondwe, western Uganda, near the Congo border, killing at least 42 people in a night raid. 

Thirty-seven of the victims of the horror attack were students. Some of the students were burned to death beyond recognition, while others were shot or hacked to death with machetes.

Ugandan police said 20 people had been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the rebel group.

It is in this context that a video was posted on Facebook on 17 June, claiming to show Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels celebrating after carrying out the massacre. The video shows armed men walking uphill, cheered on by an unidentified man.

The ADF is a feared militia group that roams the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The video’s caption reads: “Suspected ADF rebels jubilating after killing 43 students in Kasese district western Uganda on Friday Night. #EastAfricanNews.”

We found the video with the same claim posted here and here and here on Facebook and here on TikTok.

But does this video show rebels celebrating after committing a massacre? We checked.

RebelsVideo_False

Old video, unrelated

A reverse image search of keyframes drawn from the video clip using the InVID search tool led us to a longer version of the same video posted in June 2022.

Africa Check was unable to establish exactly where and when the video was filmed. However, we found that the clip was posted on Facebook a year before the attack.

The video, posted on 1 June 2022, has a caption that reads: “Les auto-defense Maï-Maï axe FIZI. Petit #SULTANI #MAKENGA du M23 et le RWANDA, les auto-defense Maï-Maï sont en forme. Les auto-defense Maï-Maï Axe FIZI, MWENGA ET UVIRA, nous attendons le mot d'ordre des autorités congolaise pour rejoindre les #FARDC au front. Ns vous assurons qu'avec les arsenales des forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, les auto-defense Maï-Maï neutraliseront le Rwanda dans 2 jours | Par Auto-defense Maï-Maï”.

This roughly translates as “The Mai-Mai self-defence FIZI axis. Little #SULTANI #MAKENGA of M23 and RWANDA, the Mai-Mai self-defence are in good shape. The Mai-Mai self-defence Axis FIZI, MWENGA AND UVIRA, we are waiting for the word of order from the Congolese authorities to join the #FARDC at the front. We assure you that with the arsenals of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mai-Mai self-defence will neutralise Rwanda in 2 days | By Mai-Mai self-defence.”

The caption identified the armed men as “the Mai-Mai self-defence Fizi axis”.

Mai-Mai is a term used in the DRC to refer to communal militias while Fizi is a region located in the country’s eastern province of South Kivu.

The video is from at least 2022, possibly older, and unrelated to the attack on the Ugandan school in 2023.

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