Kandahar: Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada reportedly on Sunday made his first public appearance in Afghanistan.
According to Taliban officials, Akhundzada met his supporters in Kandahar, reported Al Mayadeen. The Taliban official was thought to be outside his country until Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced that Akhundzada was indeed in Afghanistan. “He is present in Kandahar. He has been living there from the very beginning,” the spokesman announced.
He remained a reclusive figure even after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August and was avoiding politics and only delivering a religious address.
The leader’s low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government and even sparked rumours of his death, reported Al Mayadeen.
Akhundzada visited the Darul Uloom Hakimah Madrasa on Saturday to “speak to his brave soldiers and disciples,” officials said.
No media has emerged from the event, as there was tight security and no photographs or videos were allowed. However, a ten-minute audio recording was shared by Taliban social media accounts, which saw him opting for a religious message instead of a political one.
He has been the Taliban’s leader since 2016 after a US drone strike killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.