December 20, 2021

From Alamata aerial attack to the secret papers: Weekly disinformation summary


We cover the major misinformative contents in the third week of December.

Avatar: HaqCheck
By HaqCheck

HaqCheck is an Ethiopia based fact-checking project that verifies media content from social to the mainstream. We fact-check in English and four local languages, widely spoken in the Horn of Africa.

From Alamata aerial attack to the secret papers: Weekly disinformation summary

Alamata aerial bombardment

This week social media platforms were crowded with controversial claims and counterclaims. One of the topics of those claims and counter-claims was regarding an alleged aerial attack in the town Alamata.

Videos and images have been widely shared on social media with the claim that the Ethiopian government conducted drone attacks in the town of Alamata and many civilians died and were wounded.

Mainstream and social media accounts affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shared videos and images with the same claim that the alleged ‘air bombardment in Alamata by the Ethiopian government’ on Dec 16 & 17, 2021 killed 28 people and wounded some more 76 civilians.

statement was also issued by an entity named ‘Tigray External Affairs Office’ regarding the issue. The statement written in English claimed that the Ethiopian government conducted six rounds of aerial strikes at a marketplace in the town of Alamata.

On the other hand, there were counter-claims that the aerial strikes targeted TPLF troops, not civilians. They blamed TPLF for the alleged attack in Alamata.

Capturing and recapturing areas

Another information disorder during the week was regarding the capturing and recapturing of areas in the conflict zone. There have been many claims of such type from both sides of the belligerents.

In this context, HaqCheck fact-checked a claim posted on social media by one of the TPLF-affiliated news outlets. The Facebook post shared a picture, on Dec 12, claiming that TPLF forces have intercepted the road between Gashena & Lalibela and Kon & Gashena towns. At the moment, the post had got over 6 thousand reactions and over 5 hundred users shared it. HaqCheck also came across another Facebook page that posted a picture stating similar news.

The claim came out amid a report by the Ethiopian government on Dec 11, that it had controlled territories along the main road of Woldia - Mekelle highway. Afterward, on Dec 12, TPLF officials claimed that they had recaptured Gashena and Lalibela and destroyed 80,000 government soldiers. 

However, HaqCheck confirmed that the image was previously posted on Aug 28, by different users on Facebook and Twitter, in another context. Hence, the post was rated FALSE.

There were also battlefield victory claims by another group of social media users. Among these was a Facebook post that claimed armed forces led by the Ethiopian government recently controlled the town of Maychew, assisted by fighter aircraft and drones, and blocked the road from Woldia to Korem.

The post used an old image that doesn't confirm the claim. The image used in the post was previously published on Facebook on May 6, 2021, by the Ethiopian Defence Forces' verified account.

Secret papers allegedly drafted by a clandestine group called ‘The Squad’

Controversial claims appeared during the week that a secret document prepared by a clandestine group led by Agegnehu Teshager, a former president of Amhara Regional State, and other Gonder-born officials was leaked. The claims were circulating on the social media landscape.

The posts claimed that the secret papers were drafted by Amhara regional officials from Gondar as a roadmap to dominate regional politics.



At times of war and conflict, propaganda warfare is very intensified. Propaganda content circulates in many ways and tactics. Thus, people should be cautious and should question the intention, the source, the actors, and the authenticity of such content before they consume and share it with other fellows.

HaqCheck urges concerned authorities to give up-to-date information regarding ongoing issues. Information disorder and disinformation tend to be unusually high when there is a lack of sufficient up-to-date information.


HaqCheck is a local multilingual fact-checking project based in Ethiopia, formed inside Addis Zeybe’s newsroom, now Inform Africa’s Counter Disinformation Project - a board-led Civil Society Organization (CSO) - dedicated to verifying media contents from social to the mainstream. HaqCheck works in collaboration with media outlets to monitor media contents in English and four local languages (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Somali).

This report is produced with the support of UNESCO under the #CoronavirusFacts: Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19 in conflict-prone Environments that the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office is implementing in Ethiopia with financial support from the European Union (EU). The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the EU concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO or The European Union and do not commit these organizations in any way.