Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada has made his first public appearance on Saturday when he addressed a local gathering in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials announced. According to the Taliban administration, Akhundzada visited the Darul Uloom Hakimah madrassa to “speak to his brave soldiers and disciples.”

The event was held in tight security and no camera recordings were permitted. However, a ten-minute audio recording was shared by Taliban social media accounts.

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Akhundzada, who has been the spiritual and nominal chief of the Islamist group since 2016 remained highly elusive even after his group seized power in Afghanistan in August. The leader is said to be the one to keep a low profile.

However, his absence from any of the Taliban events since the Afghanistan coup triggered speculations of his removal and even his death. The recent video ended speculations about his death.

During his Saturday speech in Kandahar, the Taliban leader largely talked about religious issues and refrained from commenting on Afghanistan’s socio-political landscape.

Akhundzada, who is also referred to as “Amirul Momineen” or commander of the faithful sought God’s blessing for the Taliban leadership. He also prayed for the Taliban martyrs, wounded fighters, and the success of the Islamic Emirate’s officials in this “big test”.

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Haibatullah Akhundzada, veteran Talib as the militant group call its members, was appointed as the leader of the Taliban in a swift transition of power after a 2016 US drone strike killed his predecessor.

Before Akhundzada, the Taliban regime was controlled by  Mullah Akhtar Mansour. He was killed in a drone strike conducted by the United States under the presidency of Barack Obama in Balochistan. He was said to have been carrying a fake Pakistani passport.

The militant group Taliban, which has been active in Afghanistan for over two decades back, regained power in the war-torn country in August this year ousting the democratical president.