Hoaxes & Rumors

Does this Photo Show a Massacre of 2000 Nigerians?

Does this Photo Show a Massacre of 2000 Nigerians?

A photo of charred bodies is circulating online, with claims that it shows 2000 Nigerians massacred “2 days after Paris.” Is this photo real or fake?

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The photo is real, but the story attached to it is unrelated.

First appearance: 2011

The photo (which we have blurred below) first circulated heavily online in mid-2011. At that time, it was claimed that the photo showed Nigerian Christians burnt alive by Muslims. That story was untrue.

Let’s look at the 2011 version. A common caption read:

Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims in NIGERIA…(Posted by Jillian Becker in Africa, Arab States, Christianity, Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims, Islam, Muslims, jihad)…..PLEASE SHARE IT OR JUST UPLOAD YOUR OWN…BUT SOMEHOW SPREAD IT IF YOU’RE EVEN 1% CHRISTIAN — It is still not over yet! —

The photo and story were angrily shared by readers unaware that photo did not depict an act of violence, but the aftermath of an accident, as detailed below.


In January 2015, the photo surfaced once again online. This time the caption claimed that it was evidence of a massacre in Nigeria. “This is Nigeria. A massacre of 2000 happened 2 days after Paris. They are not Charlie. They are dead.”

That, too, is an incorrect description of the photo.

The caption appears to reference a 2015 report that as many as 2000 were feared dead in a massacre in Nigeria. As the Guardian reported:

Hundreds of bodies – too many to count – remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria from an Islamic extremist attack that Amnesty International described as the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram.

Real Incident: Tanker Explosion

Loonwatch posted an excellent dissertation debunking the false description of photo when it first circulated in 2011. That site showed – with many additional photos –  that the charred bodes were in fact a result of a tanker explosion in Congo in July 2010.

Reuters originally covered the explosion, writing:

“At least 230 people were killed when a fuel tanker overturned and exploded in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, unleashing a fire ball that tore through homes and cinemas packed with people watching World Cup soccer.”

Africa Check also published a rather convincing piece debunking claims about the photo at the time.

Bottom Line

The photo which allegedly shows a massacre of 2000 Nigerians is incorrectly labeled. It actually shows the aftermath of a tanker explosion which occurred in Congo back in 2010. The photo also circulated in 2011 as an example of Christians burned in Nigeria, which was also a misrepresentation of the photo. Although a massacre of 2000 in Nigeria has been reported in January 2015, this photo does not depict that tragedy.

Updated January 11, 2015
Originally published October 2011

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  • Murielle

    Careful though. I have close contact with opendoors, christians in muslim countries often have no problems when they are from the outside (not always as you can google the name tilmann geske for example). But the big problems are for those that were muslims and convert to christianity. I know one person who experienced this and have gheard of many many storied like this in Pakistan, Ouzbekistan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan to name only few…
    I know missionaries that worked in some muslim countries and yes persecution is real. Maybe read “I dared to call him father” by Bilquis Sheikh

  • suzanne bowers

    Our freedom is taken for granted everyday we must have order in society or it will all come to anarchy we must stop the likkings everywhere and change and only god can do that….we must not judge we will be judged jesus saves eternally…

  • Tom

    Folks… Muslims,Christians,or whatever religion you maybe. Religion doesn’t kill people. People do. Every murder or killing,or collateral damage victim lost their life because someone felt it was necessary based on where they stand. The idea of murder in 2013 seems so stone age. In 2013 man is still acting like barbarians. As long as our societies continue to sell propaganda and spread lies along with misleading information— for the reason of making a profit we all will suffer. At some point and time we have to stop arguing and come together like adults and take a closer look at what organization(s) or group(s) that are profiting from all of this pain, so that we can create a better world because we are capable of doing so.

  • terry seale


    That’s a purported loophole in the Ten Commandments that a pious Muslim can bear false witness to protect or advance his faith.

    If Abraham is father to both Jacob and Ishmael, isn’t Abraham’s god the same as Mohamed’s god? I think so. God doesn’t make killers, Human theologists do.

  • Umer Aslam

    I am a muslim and have many christian friends here in pakistan… muslims can never do such things.. this fake news was created to promote the muslims-christian hatred…and to strat a civil war

  • Stan

    Misguided zealots in every religion commit atrocities, although unbiased news reports in the last decade seem to show that Islam has more than its share of these now. “Christian” zealots can be pests but are rarely violent. Muslims who want to defend their reputation as civilized believers should be reacting strongly against those who defame the name of Allah by their zealotry. Quietly wishing the idiots will go away doesn’t work. Being angrily defensive against those who ask about atrocities is not the best reaction either. PROVE your peacefulness by focusing on those who are peace-breakers. Start with those who TEACH violence, not with those who commit it. Chop off the snake’s head.

  • waffles

    Ben – Links to the original news stories of the tanker explosion containing the photo in question were posted here, and even more on Loonwatch. I’m not saying violence against people of faith doesn’t happen, just that this particular photo is not the case. If you have conflicting evidence, I’m happy to post it here.

  • waffles

    Anonymous – The tanker story was covered by reputable news services before any such stories of burning Christians ever surfaced. People have been killed due to their faith for thousands of years, but that wasn’t the case with this particular photo.

    facebookusersince2008 – Well put. That is the moral of the story here!

  • Eric de Leon

    We are all GOD’s children whether we are Muslims, Christians, Buddist etc. There are no religions that I know of that teaches cruelty to a fellow human being until we pervert it w/ our self righteousness, selfishness. Some of us even have a messianic attitude. Let us respect each other’s religious beliefs as we are all decent human beings created in the image and likeness of GOD who is our Creator…. Im a Christian ! Eric de Leon, Metro Manila,Philippines

  • kittyqueen

    Thank you very much for defending us Muslims. I don’t know if you are one but I am very grateful indeed. Peace =)

  • Mrs palm

    Thanks for the info , I always google Facebook “news” before biting the propaganda hook, sites like this sway others to do the same

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