This photo shows a burnt down Catholic church in Tanzania in 2016, not Kenya

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An image was shared widely on Facebook in Kenya with a claim that it shows a church burnt down by bandits in Kenya’s Laikipia County. But the claim is false: the photo shows a Catholic church razed to the ground in 2016 in Tanzania.

The photo was posted to Facebook on September 9, 2021. Part of the caption of the post reads: “Kenya Assemblies Of God Church in Ol Moran, Laikipia, was set on fire by bandits … thank goodness, there were no casualties (sic). ”

Screenshot of the message, taken on September 10, 2021

Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG) is a group of churches in Kenya and is part of the Africa Assemblies of God Alliance. KAG was founded in 1969 in Kenya and has over 3,000 churches across the country.

The post was also shared here, here, here and here on Facebook in September 2021.

He compared the alleged incident to the burning of an overcrowded church during the 2007/08 post-election violence in Kenya.

The allegation surfaced amid Kenyan media reports that gunmen were terrorizing villagers in Laikipia in September 2021

A leading broadcaster in Kenya, Citizen TV said bandits killed people and set schools and homes on fire, forcing residents to flee.

But the claim is wrong.

Photo shows razed church in Tanzania

A reverse image search conducted by AFP Fact Check revealed that the photo does not show a burnt down church in Kenya.

The photo shows a burnt-out Catholic church in Tanzania’s Kagera region, which was burnt down in 2016 by suspected arsonists.

An article published by the World Watch Monitor on June 3, 2016, reported that the Roman Catholic church in the village of Nyarwele in Tanzania was razed under unclear circumstances.

The World Watch Monitor is a non-governmental organization that reports stories of “Christians around the world under pressure for their faith”.

The organization told AFP Fact Check that the photo shows a “Catholic church burnt down in Tanzania in 2016 when unknown arsonists burned down a number of churches in the country.”

The photo was published in two other posts here and here in 2016.

KAG also rejected reports that his church was destroyed in Laikipia.

“None of our churches have been set on fire, the messages circulating on social networks are misleading,” KAG told AFP Fact Check.


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