The supreme leader of the Taliban, Hebatullah Akhundzadeh, has appeared in public on Sunday only for the second time in six years, telling the faithful celebrating Eid al-Fitr that the movement had “gained freedom and security” since it took power in Afghanistan last year.
Akhundzadeh’s speech comes a few days after a bomb exploded in a mosque in Kabul.
Today, strict security measures surrounded Hebatullah Akhundzadeh’s apparition in the southern city of Kandahar.
“Congratulations on the victory, freedom and success. Congratulations on this security and on the Islamic regime,” Akhundzada told thousands of faithful at the Eid Kah mosque in Kandahar.
The number of attacks has decreased in across the country since the Taliban took control of Kabul last August, but attacks have escalated during the last two weeks of Ramadan, which ended Saturday in Afghanistan.
Dozens of civilians were killed in attacks, some of which are claimed by ISIS. Friday’s attack in the capital killed at least ten people.
Akhundzada delivered his short speech from a front line of faithful in Kandahar without turning to meet the crowd, according to post on social media.
An AFP correspondent said Taliban officials prevented reporters from approaching him. Two helicopters flew over the mosque during the two-hour event.
This is Lakhundzadeh’s second known public appearance since taking over the leadership of the Taliban in 2016. Last October, he visited the Dar al-Ulum al-Hakimiya mosque in Kandahar, according to an audio recording circulated by Taliban accounts on social media .
Akhundzada’s rare appearance has fueled speculation about his role in the new Taliban government, which formed after the movement took control of Kabul on August 15, and even rumors of his death have spread.
His public presence was in much limited to the dissemination of messages on religious holidays and Akhundzadeh is believed to spend most of his time in Kandahar.
Akhundzada Friday, in a message he posted in front of Eid al-Fitr did not mention the bloodshed that shook Afghanistan during Ramadan, instead praising the Taliban’s construction of a “strong Islamic and national army” and a ” strong intelligence organization “.
On Sunday, many Afghans preferred to stay home after the recent bloody attacks.
The northern province of Kunduz witnessed the deadliest attack during the month of Ramadan, in which at least 36 people were killed and dozens of others were injured when a bomb exploded in a mosque while a group of Sufis were performing their rituals. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
Isis claimed responsibility for the attack on a bus carrying passengers on Sunday, in a woman was killed in the Afghan capital.
This is the second attack in little time in the Afghan capital. On Friday, ten people were killed in an attack on a mosque, for which no party has claimed responsibility.
Kabul police promised to “guarantee security” during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
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