Amid heavy security, Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada delivered his brief address from one of the front rows of worshippers at the Eidgah mosque in Kandahar.

This year, Afghans mark Eid al Fitr in the backdrop of a series of deadly attacks in the final two weeks of the holy month of Ramadan.
This year, Afghans mark Eid al Fitr in the backdrop of a series of deadly attacks in the final two weeks of the holy month of Ramadan. (AFP)

Afghanistan's supreme leader has appeared publicly for only the second time in six years, telling worshippers celebrating Eid al Fitr that the Taliban has achieved freedom and security since seizing power last year.

Speaking two days after a bomb ripped through a mosque in Kabul, an atmosphere of heightened security surrounded the man introduced on Sunday as Hibatullah Akhundzada, the chief of the Taliban.

"Congratulations on victory, freedom and success," he told thousands of worshippers at the Eidgah mosque in the southern city of Kandahar. "Congratulations on this security and for the Islamic system."

Amid heavy security, Akhundzada delivered his brief address from one of the front rows of worshippers in Kandahar without turning to face the crowd, according to social media posts.

Taliban officials did not allow journalists to approach him, while two helicopters hovered over the mosque for the whole of the two-hour event. Worshippers were not allowed to take pictures on their cellphones.

It was Akhundzada's second known public appearance since taking control of the Taliban in 2016. His public profile has largely been limited to the release of messages during Muslim holidays from his office in Kandahar.

In October, Akhundzada visited the Darul Uloom Hakimiah mosque in the southern city, according to an audio recording circulated by Taliban social media accounts.

READ MORE: How the Taliban governs itself

Akhundzada's low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government—and even rumours about his health.
Akhundzada's low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government—and even rumours about his health. (AFP)

Eid prayers in Kabul

In Kabul, Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund held Eid prayers at the palace, where he slammed Washington for intervening in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

"Didn't they (Washington) withhold the wealth of this country which was in its bank? Isn't that intervention in this country?" Akhund said in a statement released by authorities.

Washington seized billions of dollars of Afghanistan's assets after it withdrew in August, deepening a humanitarian crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, many Afghans in Kabul preferred to stay indoors on Sunday rather than pray at mosques after the recent deadly attacks that have jolted the country.

While the number of bombings across the country has dropped since the Taliban took over last August, attacks soared over the final two weeks of the holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Saturday for Afghans.

Dozens of civilians have been killed in the primarily sectarian attacks—some claimed by the Daesh terror group—targeting members of the Shia and Sufi communities. 

Friday's bombing of a Sunni mosque in the capital killed at least 10 people.

READ MORE: Blasts cause blackouts in Afghanistan ahead of Eid, millions affected

Source: TRTWorld and agencies