FALSE: No Church Was Burned in Laikipia, Kenya Over Grazing Land Skirmishes

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    A Roman Catholic church in Nyarwele, in the Kagera region which borders Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda was burned down in May 2016.
    File
  • A picture that has been shared widely on Facebook showing that a church, Kenya Assemblies Of God (KAG) was burned in Ol Moran, Laikipia County by bandits is false. Reverse image scrutiny of the photo indicates that the incident in fact occurred in Tanzania in 2016. 

    The photo was posted on Facebook on Thursday, September 9, claiming that this was the second KAG church to be burned in the country.

    Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG) is part of the Africa Assemblies of God Alliance and the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. KAG was founded in 1969 and has nearly 3600 churches in Kenya. 

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    The Facebook post dated September 9, 2021
    Facebook

    The photo was also shared on another Facebook post, stating that the first KAG church was burned in 2007 during the post-election violence (PEV) in Kenya. 

    The claim was also shared widely by a Facebook group dubbed Milestone Television and Kieni Yetu

    The Facebook posts were aligned with the ongoing skirmishes in Laikipia County, where pastoralists and local residents have clashed over grazing land. 

    Over eight people, including police and civilians, have been reported dead.

    A reverse image search of the photo using Google Reverse Search indicates that the photo is of a church in Tanzania and not Kenya.

    World Watch Monitor, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that reports the story of Christians around the world ‘under pressure for their faith’, published the story on May 5, 2016. 

    The article titled Third church in four months burnt down in N. Tanzania, reported that no group claimed responsibility for the fire that destroyed the Roman Catholic church in Nyarwele, in the Kagera region which borders Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

    Charisma News, a monthly Christian magazine based in Lake Mary, Florida, a suburb of Orlando, US, also reported the same in May 2016. 

    KAG church on Wednesday, September 15, told Kenyans.co.ke's journalist John Mbati, that the photo and claim were false and that no such incident had been reported. 

    Regarding the skirmishes in Laikipia, on Tuesday, September 14, locals attacked herders, assaulted, chased them away and vandalised property. 

    Farmers accused the herders of trespassing and forcefully grazing in the Marura area. 

    The National Police Service (NPS) on September 15, issued a statement on the situation unfolding in Laikipia.

    “Reported clashes between local farmers and herders and ensuing demonstrations by the farmers in Rumuruti yesterday occurred outside the disturbed areas of Laikipia. This conflict was caused by the presence of herders who allegedly grazed their livestock on farmers’ crops. 

    “Local security agencies promptly intervened and the local administration led by the area DCC held a peace baraza to diffuse the tension. More peace meetings are planned in the area to protect residents and their property from future invasion. Illegal herders invading private properties will be arrested and charged.

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    The statement by the National Police Service (NPS) dated September 15, 2021
    Twitter

    The Interior Ministry under Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i deployed police to restore normalcy in Laikipia. 

    “Enhanced security measures remain in place. Senior security and education officials are visiting the areas to assess the return to school progress. For the third day, learning continues to improve within Laikipia disturbed areas with more pupils and students reporting back. Teachers have also resumed duty in their respective schools as learning is normalized

    “The Operation continues,” National Police Service (NPS) tweeted on September 15

    Therefore claims alleging that a church was burned to ashes in Laikipia County are false and alarming. 

    This fact-check was produced by Kenyans.co.ke's John Mbati in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.