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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
THREAD In July 2018, a horrifying video began to circulate on social media. 2 women & 2 young children are led away by a group of soldiers. They are blindfolded, forced to the ground, and shot 22 times. #BBCAfricaEye investigated this atrocity. This is what we found... pic.twitter.com/oFEYnTLT6z
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
This is the video that went viral. We’ve cut out the ending, but - WARNING – it’s distressing. pic.twitter.com/6JJrdJqurW
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
Immediately, a fierce debate began on social media. Some said this happened in Cameroon. Others said it was Mali. pic.twitter.com/hbhM2hzEYu
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
In July, the Cameroonian govt dismissed the allegations as “Fake News.” They claimed the guns were not those carried by the Cameroonian military. They said the camouflage pattern was not used in the Far North. They asked why the soldiers were not wearing full combat gear. pic.twitter.com/4peZmjISCY
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
So we took a closer look at the video…and found clues that prove the government was wrong. We’ll start with the location. Where did this happen? The first 40 seconds of the video capture a mountain range with a distinctive profile pic.twitter.com/Eb70XuGL8I
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
After a tip off from a Cameroonian source, we found an exact match for that ridge line on Google Earth pic.twitter.com/niJoH9w3nX
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
It places the scene on a dirt road outside a town called Zelevet, in the Far North of Cameroon, close to the border with Nigeria. This is the region where Cameroonian soldiers are fighting the jihadist group Boko Haram. pic.twitter.com/9tmS8hPie3
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
Once we had the general location, we looked at other details in the film – tracks, buildings, trees – and matched them precisely to features visible on satellite imagery. pic.twitter.com/IzKuyKzao8
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
Putting all this evidence together, we can say with certainty that the killings happened here goo.gl/UA3YVz pic.twitter.com/kF0CM0KHbr
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
When did this happen? Again, the video contains clues. This building is visible in the video. But satellite imagery reveals that, back in November 2014, the walls around it had not yet been built. The killing happened after November 2014. pic.twitter.com/XODYqL5LRY
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
The video also shows this building. Satellite images show us that, by February 2016, it had been demolished. The killings happened before February 2016. pic.twitter.com/EdBqLQHStE
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We know that the murders took place in the hot, dry season, because this footpath – just visible in the video – only appears on the satellite imagery between January and April. That makes it probable that we’re looking at early 2015 pic.twitter.com/Uotw9w25mY
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
Notice that the soldiers, like moving sundials, cast shadows on the track. A simple formula tells us the angle and direction of the sun. This corroborates our conclusion on the date, and narrows the timeframe further: the killings happened between March 20 and April 5th 2015 pic.twitter.com/KC8HEvKFuS
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We know where. We know when. But who are the men who killed these women and children? We’ll start by establishing that these are members of the Cameroonian military. pic.twitter.com/SqyL9yOPQf
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
The government’s July statement claimed that the guns seen in the video are not those used by Cameroonian troops. But this is a Serbian-made Zastava M21. It’s rare in sub-Saharan Africa, but it *is* used by some divisions of the Cameroonian army. pic.twitter.com/vZ6xdwpC5O
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
The govt also claimed that Cameroonian soldiers in the Far North wear pale, desert-style fatigues, not the darker, forest-style camouflage seen in the video. But we found these images on Facebook – tagged to Zelevet – of soldiers wearing the type of camouflage seen in the video pic.twitter.com/ROVP1q6tcZ
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
The govt also asked why the soldiers in the video were not wearing full combat gear – heavy helmets, bulletproof vests, and rangers boots. The answer is that they were not out on patrol. They were just a few hundred metres away from this combat outpost pic.twitter.com/lBsnabqXyr
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We know this is a combat outpost because we found a @Channel4News report that was filmed here in 2015 – and we matched the features visible in that report to the details we see on satellite imagery. pic.twitter.com/nmtD8cm0Ag
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
In August, there was a sudden change in the govt’s position. After weeks of denying that these killings took place in Cameroon, the Minister of Communication announced that 7 members of the military had been arrested and were under investigation. pic.twitter.com/21idCm0MI4
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We have identified three men who actually pulled the trigger. One of them is this man, introduced in the video as “Tchotcho” pic.twitter.com/lBtnhmlpNt
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We found a Facebook profile that links the nickname 'Tchotcho' to a soldier called Cyriaque Bityala. The name Cyriaque Bityala also appears on the government’s list of men now under investigation. pic.twitter.com/gSN6HMlV0W
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
The BBC also spoke with a former Cameroonian soldier, who asked not to be named. He confirmed that this is ‘Tchotcho’ Cyrique Bityala pic.twitter.com/vBqkD3ZsiD
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BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
At the end of the video, we see him again - blindfolding the litte girl he is about to kill. A few seconds later, he draws his weapon and opens fire. pic.twitter.com/YB341xENfA
BBC News Africa @BBCAfrica
We identified two other guns used in the killing. One of the was in the hands of this man. We see him here blindfolding the women with the baby just before the shooting starts. Our military source identified him as Barnabas ‘Gonorso'. pic.twitter.com/ofOdRpOwI7
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