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Taliban supreme leader emerges after rumors of death

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The Taliban’s supreme leader made his first public appearance in months on Saturday, quashing rumors of his death. 

A senior Taliban leader told Reuters that Haibatullah Akhundzada made an appearance at a school in Kandahar.

Officials have previously made claims of Akhundzada’s appearances, but this occasion marked his first confirmed recent outing, the news service noted. 

Even after the Taliban’s August takeover of Afghanistan, Akhundzada reportedly remained out of the public eye.

However, he remained in his leadership role as supreme leader, which he has held since 2016, according to Reuters, which added that Akhundzada is considered the leader of the faithful or Amir ul Momineen and the ultimate authority of the Taliban’s political, religious and military affairs.

For years, the Taliban did not confirm the death of Mullah Omar, their founder and former supreme leader.

Last month, the Taliban also denied that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s top leaders, died in a shootout with rivals amid rumors of internal divisions.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen denied the rumors about Baradar in a tweet that said Baradar left a voice message “rejecting all those claims that he was injured or killed in a clash.”

“He says it is lies and totally baseless,” Shaheen added.

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