Fake videos of reprisals in northern Mali circulate online
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This morning, several Malians sent us a video circulating online, purporting to show the corpse of a man allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in northern Mali. According those who sent it, the body shown belongs to a torturer from the Islamic police in the northern city of Gao, who was supposedly killed in revenge for his misdeeds. However, upon further inspection, it turns out this story is false: the video was actually shot in Nigeria.
Uniformed men carry a blanket with the FRSC logo to cover a body (screenshot from a video posted online).
This morning, several Malians sent us a video purporting to show the corpse of a man allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in northern Mali. According those who sent it, the body shown belongs to a torturer from the Islamic police in the northern city of Gao who was supposedly killed in revenge for his misdeeds. However, upon further inspection, it turns out this story is false: the video was actually shot in Nigeria.
Since the start of French and Malian troops’ campaign to recapture northern Mali from Islamist extremists, residents of newly liberated cities and Malian soldiers have targeted those persons suspected of collaborating with the armed extremist groups - Aqmi, the Mujao, or Ansar Dine - that operated there, and more generally, Tuaregs and Arabs. Several NGOs and media sources have reported such acts of reprisal, notably in the towns of Sévaré and Mopti. In Gao, Arab-owned stores were looted following the arrival of coalition forces on Saturday. Furthermore, on Tuesday, the Malian army had to evacuate some men suspected of being Mujao members for fear they would be lynched by local residents.
Recently, several videos purporting to show reprisal attacks have been making the rounds. However, they should be approached with caution, as some of this footage is totally unrelated to the recent events in Mali.
Screenshot from the video showing a dying man.
This video, of which we chose to only show screenshots due to its shocking nature, is one such hoax. One of the persons who sent it to us claimed he had gotten it from a friend who in turn had obtained it from a Malian soldier, who alleged that the body belonged to an Islamic police chief from Gao, appointed by Mujao. Our source claims that the man was in charge of amputating the limbs of thieves in the name of sharia law.
Screenshot from the video. Uniformed men carry a blanket bearing the FRSC logo to cover the deceased’s body.
Yet, in the footage, uniformed men can be seen placing the corpse on a blue blanket with the acronym “FRSC” on it, an acronym for Nigeria's “Federal Road Safety Corps”. Looking more closely at photos published on the FRSC’s website, it becomes clear that the uniform of the men in the video is that of the FRSC officers.
Photo taken from the Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Corps’ website.
Nigeria plans to send its soldiers to Mali soon, but it is certainly not sending its road safety officers. The video could not have been filmed in Mali and seems more likely to be a road accident.