Groups demand thorough probe into killing of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif

Police claim they mistook the journalist for a thief who had allegedly stolen a car.

Media and civil society groups have demanded a speedy probe into the murder of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif.

The 50-year-old journalist was shot along the Magadi-Nairobi road in Kajiado County on Sunday night in unclear circumstances.

Police maintain it was a case of mistaken identity after a car carrying him failed to stop at a roadblock mounted in the area.

News of the journalist's death triggered reactions both from the Pakistani government and media that called for thorough investigations into the incident and arrest of those that may have had a hand in his killing.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif yesterday called President William Ruto seeking a fair and transparent investigation into the shocking murder of the celebrated journalist.

"I had a telephone call with Kenyan president William Ruto about the tragic death of Arshad Sharif. I requested him to ensure a fair and transparent investigation into the shocking incident," Sharif said on Twitter.

"He promised all-out help, including fast-tracking the process of return of the body to Pakistan," the prime minister tweeted.

The 50-year-old journalist is said to have left Pakistan in August, this year, to avoid arrest after he was named in multiple cases following an interview with Shahbaz Gill - a close aide of former prime minister Imran Khan - who made comments deemed offensive to the military, by those in power.

He went to Dubai in August but was forced to flee following threats to his life, where he relocated to Kenya.

Sharif was killed by police in Kajiado on Sunday night.

The police said that they had mistaken the celebrated journalist for a thief who had allegedly stolen a car.

Sharif's wife, Javeria Siddique, was among the first to break the news of the journalist's death saying she had lost her friend, husband, and favourite journalist.

"I lost my friend, husband, and my favourite journalist, Sharif, today. According to police, he was shot in Kenya. Respect our privacy and, in the name of breaking, please don't share our family pics, personal details, and his last pictures from the hospital. Remember us in your prayers," Siddique said.

Kenya's Editor Guild said a thorough investigation will demonstrate the country's investigative muscle and assure global citizens of their safety in the country.

"While we wait for all the details on the killing, the Kenya Editors' Guild calls upon the government to quickly investigate the case to determine the cause of the killing and bring those responsible to book," the Kenya Editors' Guild (KEG) said in a statement signed by KEG president Churchill Otieno.

"This would not only demonstrate Kenya's and the government's ability to protect its citizens and visitors but also assure Kenyans and the international community that Kenya is safe for everyone, including journalists whose rights it should protect."

The International Human Rights Foundation said the claims of "mistaken identity" are not credible. "The procedure is to immobilise the vehicle or intercept it at a later stage and repel hostilities (if any) by firing on hostiles. Non-violent passengers should never be shot at," the foundation said.

The former Prime Minister of the Republic of Pakistan and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (a top political party) Imran Khan said that he was shocked at the brutal murder of Sharif. "Sharif paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth. 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," Khan said.

Renowned journalist Allan Namu, believed to have been working with Sharif on an investigative story on corruption, said that journalists should not be killed for doing their work. "Away from dealing with the fake news coming my way, Sharif's death, once again, my sincere condolences to his wife and family. It should be clear by now that no journalist should ever have to pay this price for his work," Namu said.

The Kenya Union of Journalists said police records showed that there was more than meets the eye in the death of Sharif and demanded thorough investigations to unravel the motive of the shooting.

"We demand the immediate arrest of the officers who were involved in this incident. We send our heartfelt condolences to Sharif's family and the Pakistani media fraternity," KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor said.

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