Investigation launched in Kenya after Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif shot dead by police

Arshad Sharif pictured before he presented a show in Pakistan.
Arshad Sharif was shot dead by Kenyan police on Sunday. Credit: AP

An investigation has been launched in Kenya after police shot dead a senior Pakistani journalist living in hiding within the country.

Authorities said Arshad Sharif was killed when the car he was in sped up instead of halting at a roadblock near Nairobi.

In a statement the Kenyan National Police Service said it expressed regret over the incident, saying it was a case of “mistaken identity" during a search for a similar car involved in a case of child abduction.

Arshad Sharif, 50, left Pakistan in July to avoid arrest over criticizing the South Asian country’s powerful military.

He was also a critic of the government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who has repeatedly said he believes in freedom of the media.

Shahbaz Sharif spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto, on Monday, and asked him to ensure a fair and transparent investigation into the journalist's killing, according to a government statement.

Nairobi police said Arshad Sharif was shot in the head and killed on Sunday night, after the car he was in with his brother, Khurram Ahmed, drove through a roadblock set up on the Nairobi-Magadi highway.

The roadblock was set up to find and intercept a car similar to Arshad Sharif's, following a carjacking in the Pangani area of Nairobi, where a child was taken hostage.

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They were traveling from the town of Magadi to the Kenyan capital. The two ignored police orders to stop and sped up, police said.

“They did not stop and proceeded with the journey,” the police said. During a car chase, officers opened fire on the vehicle which flipped over.

Arshad Sharif’s wife, Javeria Siddique, confirmed that her husband was killed in Kenya.

His brother's condition was not immediately known.

Nairobi police said the Independent Policing Oversight Authority will take over the case for further investigation.

Dozens of journalists have protested the killing of Arshad Sharif in Islamabad. Credit: AP

On Monday, dozens of journalists rallied in Islamabad over his killing and demanded justice for Arshad Sharif.

“We don't believe the version of the Kenyan police," veteran journalist Hamid Mir said at the rally.

He demanded an independent probe into the incident, saying there were contradictions in the statement from Kenyan police.

A court in Islamabad, in August, asked Pakistan’s intelligence agency and police to stop harassing Arshad Sharif after the journalist, through his lawyer, petitioned the court, saying his fundamental rights were being violated by security forces.

Police and the government at the time confirmed that Arshad Sharif was being sought in a complaint case, but said no action had been carried out to arrest him.