British Red Cross worker killed in Pakistan

British Red Cross worker killed in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan - The Associated Press
British Red Cross worker killed in Pakistan

Members of the media gather as rescue workers and police shift the body of Khalil Rasjed Dale, a British doctor working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, at a hospital in Quetta. REUTERS photo.

The body of a British Red Cross worker who had been held captive in Pakistan since January was found dumped in an orchard today with a note attached to it saying he was killed because a ransom hadn't been paid to his captors, police said.

Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was managing a health program in the city of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan when armed men seized him from the street close to his office. The identities of his captors are unknown, but the region is home to separatist and Islamist militants who have kidnapped for ransom before.

"The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act," said its director-general, Yves Daccord.

Dale's throat had been slit, according to Safdar Hussain, a doctor who examined the body.

Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the note attached to it read: "This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount." Militants and criminal gangs often kidnap wealthy Pakistanis and less commonly foreigners.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned Dale's killing, calling it a "senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan." Much of Baluchistan and the tribal regions close to Afghanistan are out of government control, and make good places to keep hostages.

Large ransoms are often paid to secure their release, but such payments are rarely confirmed.

There are at least four other foreigners currently being held in Pakistan.

Last August, a 70-year-old American humanitarian aid worker was kidnapped from his house in the Punjabi city of Lahore. Al-Qaida claimed to be holding the man, Warren Weinstein, and said in a video he would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

In March, a Swiss couple held captive for eight months by the Taliban turned up at an army checkpoint close to the Afghan border. Insurgents have claimed a large ransom was paid to secure their freedom, but that has not been confirmed by Pakistani or Swiss authorities, who are unlikely to acknowledge it even if they did.

The couple was kidnapped from Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital.