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6:37pm UK, Sunday April 29, 2012
A British aid worker has been found murdered almost four months after he was kidnapped in Pakistan, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was managing an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) health programme in the southwestern city of Quetta when he was seized by gunmen on January 5.
Police in Quetta said Mr Dale’s body was found on Sunday morning wrapped in white plastic and dumped in a roadside orchard on the outskirts of the city.
His name was written on the plastic with a black marker, and a note was found in his pocket.
This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law
Prime Minister David Cameron
Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the note read: “This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount.”
Early reports said he had been beheaded but police later said Mr Dale’s throat had been slit.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law.
“Khalil Dale has dedicated many years of his life to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world and my thoughts today are with his friends and family.”
Mr Dale’s body was found dumped in an orchard on the outskirts of Quetta
The identities of his abductors are unknown, but the region is home to separatist and Islamist militants who have kidnapped for money before.
A local doctor, Safdar Hussain, who examined Mr Dale’s body said his throat had been slit 12 hours before he was found.
Police officials added that his body, which was taken to a local hospital, showed evidence of torture. A post-mortem is yet to take place.
Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the killing and said “tireless efforts” had been under way to secure Mr Dale’s release after he was abducted.
He said: “This was a senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan, and causing immeasurable pain to those who knew Mr Dale.
“My thoughts are with them, and with all those who have dedicated their lives to assisting the world’s most vulnerable people through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”
ICRC director-general Yves Daccord said in a statement: “The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act.
The scene where Mr Dale’s body was found
“All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends.”
Sean Maguire, of the ICRC, told Sky News that Mr Dale was a very experienced member of staff who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause.
“He was a very well-liked man who had worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia before going to Pakistan,” he said.
“He was a nurse. He was working in Pakistan as a health worker and for a neutral and impartial organisation so it’s a mystery to us as to why he was targeted in this way.”
Mr Dale had been in Quetta for almost a year when he was snatched by his assailants while travelling back to his ICRC residence.
Quetta is the capital of southwestern Baluchistan, Pakistan’s biggest but poorest province.
Baluch separatist militants are fighting a protracted insurgency for more autonomy and control over the area’s natural resources.
Pro-Taliban militants are also active in the province, which shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.
The week before Mr Dale’s disappearance, four health workers were seized by militants in Baluchistan.
They were freed after a shootout between police and their kidnappers.
The Foreign Office advises against “all but essential travel” to Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan, warning on its website that “there is a heightened risk from kidnapping and militant activity” in the area.