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The Taliban's interior minister, a wanted terrorist with a $10 million 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, who was made a minister after the movement's defeat of the internationally backed Afghan government, embraced the relatives of bombers at the event.
He told the audience that the aspirations of the bombers must not be betrayed, as he promised families the equivalent of £90 and a plot of land.
The ceremony took place in Kabul's Inter-Continental Hotel, which was repeatedly attacked by the Taliban during their long-running war against the government.
It was not disclosed which bombings the attackers had conducted, 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 managed to consolidate his position as one of the Taliban's leading figures since the movement swept into Kabul almost unopposed in August.
He has had a State Department $10 million reward for information on his head for more than a decade and still refuses to be photographed, even when appearing at public functions.
Pictures of the event showed his face blurred or obscured by other attendees.
The Taliban turned to suicide bombings in the years 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 which regularly employed suicide bombers during spectacular attacks aimed at high profile targets in Kabul.
The hotel where the ceremony took place was twice attacked, with at least one of those attacks blamed on the Haqqani Network.