Photo of 2017 protest in Afghanistan shared in misleading posts about Kabul airport blast

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A photo of what appears to be a pool of blood has been shared repeatedly in Facebook and Twitter posts alongside a claim about a blast outside Kabul airport in August 2021. The photo, however, has been shared in a misleading context. The image actually shows a 2017 protest over casualties in Afghanistan in which red dye was poured into a Kabul river.

The image was shared in a Facebook post on August 27.

The post's Persian-language caption translates to English as: "More than 90 people have died and 150 others have been wounded following an explosion near Kabul airport. Among them, 13 American soldiers have also been killed".

Screenshot of a misleading Facebook post, taken on September 15, 2021

On August 26, a suicide bomber targeted people gathered outside Kabul airport hoping to flee, killing dozens of people.

Inaccurate social media posts about Afghanistan have spread online since the Taliban seized control of the country in August 2021.

The same photo was also shared alongside a similar claim here and here on Twitter; and here on Facebook.

The image, however, has been shared in a misleading context.

Reverse image searches found the photo was published in an article on an Afghan website on February 12, 2017.

The Persian-language article states the photo shows a river in Kabul after protesters poured red dye into it.

The protest was staged following the release of a report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), according to the report.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and the photo on the Persian-language website (R):

Screenshot comparison of the misleading post photo (L) and Afghan website photo (R)

Kabul-based English-language news outlet TOLOnews also published this story about the symbolic protest in February 2017.

“Organizers of the event poured red dye into Kabul River to depict a river of blood -- so as to show the horrors of the war,” the article reads in part.

Chinese news network CGTN published a video report about the protest here on its YouTube channel on February 11, 2017.

Protest group Afghanistan 1400 also shared a statement about the demonstration on its official Twitter account on February 11, 2017.