Activists demand arrest of criminals who killed Pakistani cleric

Human rights activists Anab Kasim and Silas Eudan address journalists in Isiolo town on December 26, 2023. They called on a security team to speed up an investigation into the killing of a Pakistani preacher on his way to Garbatulla from Isiolo town on Monday, and to arrest the assailants.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Residents and human rights activists have called for speedy investigations and the arrest of the suspects behind Monday’s killing of a Pakistani Muslim cleric in Kachuru area on the Isiolo-Meru border.

Muhammad Asghar was among a group of 10 people travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle from Isiolo town to Garbatulla town for the annual Islamic congregation, popularly known as Jitimai.

According to police reports, bandits suspected to be from a neighbouring county ambushed the team between Lii and Kachuru area and sprayed the vehicle with bullets, killing the preacher on the spot and leaving another Pakistani with serious gunshot wounds.

The injured man is receiving treatment at Garbatulla Sub-county Hospital. He is reported to be in a stable condition.

Eight other occupants of the vehicle, including the driver, escaped unhurt in the 5.30pm incident.

Community leader Osman Shariff and activists Anab Kasim and Silas Eudan called for a thorough probe to determine the motive behind the attack and bring the attackers to justice.

Kasim said it was sad that such an incident happened while officers were providing security along the Gambela-Modogashe road, and expressed fear that the ongoing construction of the Isiolo-Modogashe-Mandera road could be halted.

“Our people have now been forced to use longer alternative routes to avoid being attacked and killed along the stretch. Security should be quickly enhanced to prevent similar incidences,” said Eudan.

Shariff said the Isiolo Export Abattoir, which is nearing completion and for which residents have been waiting for almost 20 years, may not yield its intended benefits because of insecurity in the area.

He said priority should be given to improving security along the stretch and other roads leading to the abattoir so that pastoralists can safely bring their animals to the facility.

“There is no need to spend billions of shillings to construct facilities such as an abattoir while the roads we expect our people to use to take their animals there are unsafe. Security is the catalyst for development,” Shariff said.

County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding told the Nation that a manhunt for the criminals was underway as investigations continued.

“Our officers are combing the area and following crucial leads in efforts to arrest the assailants,” he said.