Nairobi: A notable Pakistani journalist, Arshad Sharif, was shot dead in Kenya when police hunting car thieves opened fire on the vehicle he was going in as it drove through their roadblock without stopping, according to a Kenyan police report on Monday.
A Kenyan police watchdog has said it is investigating the incident, which happened at 10 pm on Sunday on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.
A senior police officer told the media that the shooting was being treated as an instance of mistaken identity. The circumstances of Sharif’s death sparked widespread outrage in Pakistan and calls for an investigation. Sharif worked for many years as a prime-time television news show host for ARY News in Pakistan and had recently escaped the country citing threats to his life. It was not immediately clear when he had arrived in Kenya.
The police report said a relative of Sharif had been driving the car. It said police had formed the roadblock by placing small stones across the road, but the car drove through without stopping, even after officers opened fire. Nine bullets hit the car, and one hit Sharif in the head.
Kenya’s Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), a civilian watchdog, has started an investigation into Sharif’s killing, IPOA’s chairwoman Ann Makori told journalists in a news conference on Monday.
“There’s alleged police killing of a Pakistani national at Tinga market, Kajiado county, last evening. Our rapid response team has already been dispatched,” she said. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said its high commissioner in Kenya was in touch with Kenyan police and the foreign office and a police report is awaited.
“I lost a friend, husband, and my favorite journalist,” his wife, Javeria Siddique, said on Twitter, asking for the media to respect the family’s privacy.
Sharif’s death sparked widespread reaction on social media in Pakistan from officials, journalists, and others. “I am deeply saddened by the shocking news of journalist Arshad Sharif’s tragic death,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter. The two Sharifs are not related. Former prime minister Imran Khan also condemned the death and said Sharif had been murdered for his journalistic work. He called for a judicial investigation into the incident.