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Murder of Pakistani journalist in Kenya ‘planned’: Report

Pakistani investigators say the killing of veteran journalist Arshad Sharif was a “planned killing.”

The killing of a Pakistani investigative journalist in Kenya was a “planned killing,” a team of Pakistani investigators said in a report published Wednesday.

Arshad Sharif, a critic of Pakistan’s powerful army, was killed when police fired on his car on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi in late October. Nairobi police later regretted the incident, saying it had been a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car involved in a child abduction case.

Sharif’s murder drew condemnation and calls for an independent investigation.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced an investigation and promised that the government’s findings would be shared with the public. The Pakistani military and journalists also demanded an investigation, as did Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, and other family members.

The 49-year-old journalist was living in exile after he fled the country in August to avoid arrest following multiple cases, including sedition charges, slapped against him for making comments on his show deemed offensive to the military.

Meanwhile, Islamabad police have accused two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya, who had hosted Sharif in the African country, of involvement in his murder.

‘selective killing’

The investigators’ 592-page report, seen by The Associated Press, says Kenyan police issued conflicting statements after the killing. As part of the investigation, two Pakistani officials traveled to Kenya, where they met with police and Sharif’s hosts, the Khurram brothers and Waqar Ahmed.

According to the report, Khurram told investigators that he had been in the car with Sharif at the time of the shooting and was traveling home after dinner. They saw the barricade, which Khurram believed had been put up by robbers. As they accelerated, he heard the fatal shots, he said.

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Khurram said she then called her brother, who advised her to keep driving until she reached the family farm several kilometers away. Once at the house, the brothers found Sharif already dead, Khurram said.

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People attend the funeral prayer for slain Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, in Islamabad.
People attend the funeral prayer for slain Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, in Islamabad, Pakistan. [File: Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from the scene of the killing in Kajiado, Kenya, said the brothers have not spoken to the press since the incident.

However, their lawyer has said that “they were not involved and that they also fear for their lives,” Webb said.

The report does not shed light on whether it found Khurram’s account suspicious. He only said that Kenyan police were apparently “used as an instrument” in the murder, possibly with financial or other compensation, again without elaborating or offering evidence to support the allegation.

The report offered no evidence for its claims and there was no immediate comment from Kenya.

“This was a planned and targeted killing…rather than a case of mistaken identity,” as Kenyan police claimed, according to the report. He refrained from blaming anyone specifically, saying only that people in Kenya, Dubai or Pakistan may have played a role in the killing.

Sharif stayed in the United Arab Emirates after leaving Pakistan in August and before traveling to Kenya.

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The report further suggested that the bullet that fatally wounded Sharif was fired from inside the car or from very close range. Again he did not give further details.

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