UK aid worker kidnapped in Pakistan found beheaded
By Maaz Khan | AFP
The body of a British Red Cross worker abducted in Pakistan was found beheaded on Sunday, with a note saying he was killed after his captors’ demands were not met, police said.
The mutilated body of Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was dumped in a bag in an apple orchard on the outskirts of Quetta, the main town in the insurgency-hit southwestern province of Baluchistan, almost four months after his abduction.
A note claiming to be from militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was found with the body, senior local police official Tariq Manzoor told AFP.
The group said in the note that “our demands were not met (and) we have stuffed his (Dale’s) body in a bag after slaughtering him. We will soon release video of his beheading,” according to Manzoor.
Dale, a British Muslim who had been managing a health programme in Quetta for almost a year, was abducted on January 5 by eight masked gunmen, who forced him from his car at gunpoint while he returned home from work.
A source close to the case said the captors had demanded a ransom of $30 million.
The International Committee of the Red Cross “condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act,” said Director-General Yves Daccord.
“All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends.”
“We are devastated,” Daccord said, adding that the aid worker — who had worked in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq for the ICRC — was a “trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member”.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London had tried tirelessly to secure Dale’s release.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Riffat Hussain, a police surgeon at Bolan Medical College in Quetta, where the aid worker’s body was taken, told AFP that Dale had been “decapitated”, but that doctors had “stitched” his head back on to his body.
He is believed to have been killed some 12-14 hours before his body was discovered, the surgeon said, adding that some of his joints had been dislocated “because the body was forcibly stuffed into the bag”.
Police official Manzoor told AFP: “His body was found in a bag in an apple orchard on the outskirts of Quetta on Sunday morning.”
The ICRC had announced a reduction of its activities in Pakistan just days before Dale’s abduction with the closure of three of its centres in the northwest.
But after Dale’s abduction, the organisation vowed to continue its work in the troubled country.
In Baluchistan, the ICRC mainly focuses on health programmes and supports several medical centres, including a hospital.
Kidnappings plague parts of Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Baluchistan has seen a recent surge in violence, linked to a separatist insurgency, sectarian violence and Taliban militants.
Local rebels rose up in 2004 demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s natural oil, gas and mineral resources.
In 2009, John Solecki, the local head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), was snatched at gunpoint in Quetta on February 2. His driver was killed during the abduction. He was released after nearly nine weeks.
Last year, Warren Weinstein, 70, country director for US-based consultancy J.E. Austin Associates, was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home on August 13, days before he was due to return to the United States.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed responsibility and demanded that Washington end air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and release the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and relatives of Osama bin Laden.