How UPDF wanted the world to believe it killed 189 al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia but got caught in a web of lies.

Analysis shows that to cover up for the first lie, they created two additional lies.

Around 22 January Lt.Col Akiki of the UPDF shared a press statement about successes in their fight against al-Shabaab. Many influential media houses ran the story, such as Al Jazeera:

The NilePost even included more details:

Journalists start to verify the UPDF claims, but couldn’t find any confirmation. Researcher Rashid Abdi tweeted his doubts.

The pressure started to increase and on 27 January the Ugandan government had no choice but to withdraw the story.

UN ambassador Adonia tried to label it as ‘Internet chatter’, but journalists didn’t go for that:

Reuters then had to withdraw the whole story. UPDF didn’t apologize but rather spread more lies.

Reuters also posted a tweet to announce they had withdrawn the story.

UPDF communication person ‘bandivan’ directly jumped to the conclusion that the tweet was fake.

The first error in the bandivan tweet is that’s it wasn’t @nup_ug, an account that was silent at the time because the operator was locked up in Kitalya prision, but @fdcofficial1 that shared the Reuters tweet.

Bandivan didn’t take into account the possibility that media houses sometimes post Tweets temporary. This can be seen by looking at the replies to those tweets.

Although Reuters withdrew the story, on many places the UPDF fake news is still found.


Reuters will never publish another UPDF press statement anymore without thoroughly double checking.

UPDF and Ugandan government finds it increasingly more difficult to manipulate news. In this case they were even caught lying thrice. First the announcement of the 189 killed al Shabaab fighters, which they had to withdraw when it became more and more clear that no confirmation could be found.

To withdraw the press announcement, they created another lie that the press announcement didnt come from UPDF, the UN ambassador even referred to it as ‘internet chatter’.

Reuters then had to pull the story, and posted a temporary tweet. After Reuters removed its tweet, UPDF communications account ‘bandivan’ claimed that a fake tweet from Reuters was distributed. By looking at the replies it can be shown that there was actually a Reuters tweet.