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Taliban minister praises suicide bombers as ‘heroes of Islam’

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A Taliban fighter stands guard while his comrades are praying at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

A Taliban fighter stands guard while his comrades are praying at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

A Taliban fighter jumps into the vehicle after praying at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

A Taliban fighter jumps into the vehicle after praying at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

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A Taliban fighter stands guard while his comrades are praying at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

The Taliban’s interior minister, a wanted terrorist with a $10m (€8.6m) bounty on his head, has praised the movement’s suicide bombers as “heroes of Islam and the homeland” at a ceremony for their families.

Sirajuddin Haqqani embraced the relatives of bombers at the event and told the audience that the aspirations of the bombers must not be betrayed, as he promised their families the equivalent of €106 and a plot of land.

The ceremony took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which was repeatedly attacked by the Taliban during their insurgency.

It was not disclosed which attacks the bombers had carried out, but the Taliban were responsible for large numbers of civilian casualties during their campaign against the government.

Haroun Rahimi, assistant professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan, said: “The attacks killed hundreds of innocent Afghans. Praising their perpetrators adds to the pain of the victims’ families.

“If the Taliban want to rule a united and peaceful Afghanistan, they must work hard for reconciliation.”

Haqqani has consolidated his position as one of the Taliban’s leading figures since the movement swept into the capital almost unopposed in August.

He has had the US State Department reward for information on his head for more than a decade and refuses to be photographed, even when appearing at public functions. His face was obscured in pictures of the suicide bomber event.

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The Taliban only turned to suicide bombings after they were ousted from power in 2001, but the tactic quickly became one of their most feared tools.

Haqqani became infamous as the leader of the Haqqani Network faction of the Taliban that regularly employed suicide bombers during attacks in Kabul.

General David Petraeus, the former Nato commander, yesterday described the Taliban’s takeover as “heartbreaking, tragic and, in many respects, disastrous”, as he appeared before the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on Afghanistan.

He said he had tried to warn Joe Biden that troop withdrawal could result in the psychological collapse of Afghan government forces. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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