Ethiopian armed groups' video peddled as Kuki militants firing at Meiteis in Manipur

By: Chandan Borgohain
September 21 2023

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
Ethiopian armed groups' video peddled as Kuki militants firing at Meiteis in Manipur

Screenshot of a social media post that falsely links an video from Ethiopia with Manipur violence. (Source: Facebook)


The Verdict False

The video dates back to at least January and is unrelated to Manipur. It shows members of armed groups in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Claim ID 9c4ff0ce

The Indian state of Manipur remains strife-torn four months after ethnic clashes broke out between the Meitei and the Kuki communities in May. According to media reports, the Manipur police have put the death toll at 175. More than 4,700 houses were set on fire, and at least 386 religious structures were vandalized in the violence-hit Northeastern state. 

What is the claim? 
The conflict in Manipur has been accompanied by various false and misleading claims circulating online. A video of a group of men firing guns from behind a small rocky defensive wall at an elevation is doing the rounds on social media with the claim that it shows Kuki militants shooting at Meitei villagers in Manipur. The text overlaid on the video reads, "Kuki militants with wooden slingshot Shooting at MEITEI villagers." The caption of one post sharing the clip on Facebook reads, "NDTV India Arnab Goswami Narendra Modi Amit Shah Indian Army MEITEI civilians suffered alot from kuki militants... #kukiterrorists #KukiLies #kukiexposed pliz pray for meitei (sic)." An archived version of the post can be found here.

Screenshot of the viral video. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the video is not from Manipur. The video dates back to January and shows armed militants in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

What did we find?

We performed a reverse image search on one of the keyframes of the video and found an extended version of the same clip on Facebook. Facebook user Amiin Qaamuus Akid uploaded this 3:31-minute-long video on September 7 with the caption: "Tigrai defence forces TDF." In his Facebook bio, Akid, who has over 86,000 followers, identified himself as a journalist.

Tigray Defense Forces, or TDF, is an Ethiopian armed rebel group that has been fighting against the Abiy Ahmed Ali-led government since 2020.

Visual comparison of the viral clip(Left) and the video(Right) shared by Amiin Qaamuus Akid on Facebook. (Source: Facebook/Screenshots)

The video, titled partially in Amharic and partially in Krio— languages spoken in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone—was uploaded on YouTube by 'TIGRAY 24B VOT' on January 14. The video's title indicated that it showed a gun battle between the Eritrea and Tigray armies. The channel has shared multiple such videos of armed persons firing guns.  

Visual comparison of the viral clip and the YouTube video. (Source: Facebook(Left)/YouTube(Right)/Screenshots)

Moreover, in the YouTube video, we also noticed traditional African thatched huts similar to those found in Ethiopia.

Visual comparison of the huts seen in the YouTube video with traditional Ethiopian huts. (Source: YouTube(Left)/Getty Images(Right)/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)

Logically Facts also contacted a native Kuki speaker, who confirmed that the language being spoken in the viral video is not Kuki. We also reached out to Pesacheck, an African fact-checking organization, who told us that the video was from Ethiopia. "We have reviewed the video. It is from Ethiopia, the language being spoken on the video is Tigrinya, and the clothes are consistent with the Tigray region of Ethiopia," a fact-checker at PesaCheck told us. We also noted that the description of the YouTube video and the channel's bio is in Tigrinya, an Ethio-Semitic language spoken in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The video has been available online since January, well before widespread ethnic violence broke out in Manipur, proving that it is unrelated to the ongoing conflict in the state. 

The present conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region bordering Eritrea started in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered military operations against regional forces in Tigray. The roots of the dispute can be traced back to the decades-long Eritrean-Ethiopian border conflict. The feud came to a head after the Ethiopian PM relinquished Ethiopia's claim over the disputed areas in 2018 to end the long-standing conflict between the neighboring countries. According to a report by BBC, the Eritrean forces have sided with the Ethiopian government in their military operations in Tigray. 

The verdict

The viral video has been online since at least January and is unrelated to the ongoing violence in Manipur. According to several sources, it shows an incident from the Tigray region in Ethiopia. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

Read this fact-check in:

English , অসমীয়া

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before