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Taliban supreme leader makes first public appearance amid death rumours

KABUL – Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhundzada made a rare public appearance in the Kandahar, denying widespread rumors of his death.

The Taliban Chief, also known as Amir ul Momineen, had not been seen in public after the Taliban’s takeover of the country. The 60-year-old has been the spiritual chief of the group since 2016 but has remained a reclusive figure.

His low profile has drawn speculation about his role in the new Taliban government while many claimed about his death.

He visited the Darul Uloom Hakimah madrassah on Saturday to speak to his brave soldiers and disciples, according to Taliban officials.

Security arrangements were beefed up at the event and no pictures have emerged, but a 10-minute audio recording was shared by some accounts.

His address did not touch on political organization but sought the blessing of Allah SWT blessing for the leadership. He also prayed for the wounded fighters and the success of the Emirates.

Akhundzada was previously a religious figure to the leader of the Taliban in a swift transition of power after a 2016 US drone strike killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour – the former Taliban leader.

He reportedly secured the support of the Al Qaeda Chief who showered the cleric with praise and named him “the emir of the faithful”.

Meanwhile, the public profile of Akhunzada has mostly been limited to the release of messages during Islamic holidays, and he is believed to spend most of his time in Kandahar.

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