A prominent journalist who was forced to flee Pakistan after receiving death threats for criticising the government and the military has been shot dead by police officers in Kenya.
Kenyan authorities have claimed that Arshad Sharif, 50, was killed in a case of mistaken identity while driving through the southwestern town of Magadi on Sunday night.
In a police report seen by VICE World News, authorities claim Sharif’s driver failed to stop at a checkpoint soon after they received reports that a child in the area had been abducted in a stolen car with similar licence plate numbers. The driver of Sharif’s vehicle, Khurram Ahmed, who police claim is a relative, survived the shooting.
However, friends and colleagues of Sharif believe the journalist may have been deliberately targeted for his views. Earlier this year, several cities in Pakistan charged the journalist with sedition for his alleged anti-government comments. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a statement on Twitter that Sharif “paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth – his life.”
Khan continued: “He had to leave the country and be in hiding abroad but he continued to speak the truth on social media, exposing the powerful. Today the entire nation mourns his death.”
The news of Sharif’s death was first announced by his wife, Javeria Siddique, who tweeted: “I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist today, as per police he was shot in Kenya.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Kenya’s National Police Service, Bruno Isohi Shioso, said that the police “regrets this unfortunate incident” before promising that “competent authorities are currently investigating this incident for appropriate action.”
At a press conference, the head of Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Ann Makori, said that a rapid response team had already begun investigating the incident.