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Does a Photograph Depict the Suicide Bombing in Kabul on Thursday?
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Does a Photograph Depict the Suicide Bombing in Kabul on Thursday?

The image in question was taken on August 16.

On August 26, two suicide bombers and gunmen killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and more than 90 Afghans at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. In light of these attacks, images alleging to show the scene have been circulating on social media. One Facebook image claims: “Blast near Kabul airport Eastern Gate. Potentially suicide bomber.” Another widely shared post claims that “Kabul’s Hamid Karzai’s International Airport is currently under attack by the Taliban.” The post continues: “A large explosion and gunfire can be seen and heard at a gate on the Eastern side of the airport. The incident occurred at one of the entry gates to the airport. Numerous people have been injured and killed in the explosion.” This image is credited to “Atlas News.”

This viral image, although indeed an image from Kabul airport, is actually from August 16, 2021, and the description on Getty Images reads: “US soldiers stand guard as in the background Afghan people wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.” The picture was taken by Wakil Kohsar for the Agence France-Presse news agency

Dave Clark, news editor at AFP Brussels, tweeted about the photo Thursday morning, clarifying that it was actually taken 10 days earlier. “You’ve probably seen this photo circulating to show the bomb attack just now outside HKIA,” Clark said in a tweet. “It’s been on our @AFP wire since August 16. Remember news watchers: Check before you retweet.”

The photo also appeared in news outlets before August 26. On August 17, Yahoo News published the photo in an article headlined: “People descend on runway, cling onto US military jet in attempt to flee Kabul.”

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.