Arshad Sharif: Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya was ‘targeted’ attack, says minister

Islamabad, Pakistan

A Pakistani journalist shot dead by police in Kenya last month was the victim of a “targeted killing,” a senior Pakistani official said on Tuesday, without providing any evidence to back up his claim.

Television journalist Arshad Sharif – a staunch critic of the Pakistani military – was killed in a police shooting near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on October 23.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that the initial assessment of a two-member investigative team that traveled to Kenya on behalf of the Pakistani government was “that Arshad Sharif was killed in a case of targeted killing.” More evidence was needed “to confirm all of this,” he said.

Sanaullah’s comments appear to contradict earlier accounts from Kenyan authorities that Sharif was shot dead by police responding to reports of a stolen vehicle due to false identification.

The Pakistani interior minister also accused the Kenyan police of “not cooperating” with the investigation team, saying “crucial data” on the case had not been handed over by the Kenyan authorities. A formal request to obtain the information had been made, he added.

Kenyan police told CNN they were not aware of any allegations of non-cooperation by Pakistani officials. “We have not received any such complaints, which, if any, will have to be formally filed,” said police spokesman Isohi Shioso.

Shioso said the case is in the hands of the police watchdog, an independent police watchdog. CNN has reached out to the watchdog for comment.

Sharif fled Pakistan in August after he was accused of criticizing government institutions and “fostering insurgency” within the military.

The allegations followed Sharif’s interview with opposition politician Shahbaz Gill, a close ally of ousted former prime minister Imran Khan who was shot dead last week in murky conditions at a protest rally in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Following the interview, Pakistani police also charged Gill with sedition, saying he had “opposed the government”.

Sharif’s news channel, ARY, initially claimed she was “slain by the current administration,” but later cut ties with the journalist after it was taken off the air by Pakistani media for about a month.

Earlier, a close friend of Sharif told CNN that the journalist had to “flee from Pakistan in August to save his life”. He had originally gone to Dubai but was forced to flee again due to “harassment from Pakistani officials,” the associate said.

The colleague said Sharif then went to Kenya and was only in the East African country for a few weeks before he died.

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