x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Captive British Red Cross worker murdered in Pakistan

Gang say they killed Khalil Rasjed Dale because no ransom was paid.

QUETTA, PAKISTAN // The body of a British Red Cross worker held captive in Pakistan since January was found in an orchard yesterday with his throat slit.

A note was attached to his body saying he was killed because no ransom was paid, police said.

Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was managing a health programme in the city of Quetta in south-west Pakistan when armed men seized him from a street close to his office.

The identities of his captors remain unknown but the region is home to separatist and Islamist militants who have kidnapped for ransom before.

The director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord, condemned the "barbaric act".

"All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends," he said.

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

The Quetta police chief, Ahsan Mahboob, said the note attached to his body 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.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned Khalil's murder and said "tireless efforts" had been under way to secure his release.

Khalil had worked for the Red Cross for years, carrying out assignments in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the group said.

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, lies close to the Afghan border and for decades has hosted thousands of refugees from that country.

The Red Cross operates clinics in the city that treat people wounded in the war in Afghanistan, including Taliban insurgents.

Much of Baluchistan and the tribal regions close to Afghanistan are out of Pakistani 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 being held in Pakistan.

In August, a 70-year-old American humanitarian aid worker was kidnapped from his house in the Punjabi city of Lahore.

Al Qaeda claimed to be holding the man, Warren Weinstein, and said in a video that he would be released if the United States stopped air strikes 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. That has not been confirmed by Pakistani or Swiss authorities, who are unlikely to acknowledge it even if they did. The couple was kidnapped in Baluchistan.

Also yesterday, American missiles killed three suspected Islamist militants sheltering in an abandoned school in North Waziristan, according to intelligence officials.

The strike comes as the US tries to rebuild its relationship with Pakistan, which opposes the missile attacks and has demanded they stop.

The frequency of the attacks, which critics say kill innocents and energise the insurgency, has dropped dramatically this year.