Police have found the beheaded body of a British aid worker who was kidnapped by suspected militants in southwestern Pakistan earlier this year, officials said on Sunday.
Health program manager Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was kidnapped by suspected militants on January 5 when he was on his way from work in a car marked with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) emblems. The British national was kidnapped about 200 meters (650 yards) from an ICRC residence in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan which borders Afghanistan.
"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," said ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord. "Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause."
Quetta police said the body of the Muslim convert was found wrapped in plastic in an orchard with a note saying he had been killed by the Taliban. A sharp knife was used to sever Dale's head from the body, although it was not immediately clear if that was the cause of his death.
"I was deeply saddened to hear today about the brutal murder of Khalil Dale - a man who was killed whilst providing humanitarian support to others," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement released by Number 10. "This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law."
According to the BBC, the militants holding Dale had demanded a 'very large' ransom which could not be paid.
"Tireless efforts have been underway to secure his release, and the British Government has worked closely with the Red Cross throughout," UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said. "I utterly condemn the kidnapping and killing of Mr Dale, and send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones as they come to terms with their tragic and distressing loss. 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."
British Red Cross chief executive Nicholas Young said Dale first worked overseas for the Red Cross in 1981 in Kenya, distributing food and improving the health of people affected by severe drought. He also worked in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, before his posting to Pakistan with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"In other words, he did not shy away from the tough assignments, in the name of improving the lives of others," Young said, adding that his death also robs the people he was helping from the expert care they need. "He was a brave man who had the utmost respect of his colleagues in the Red Cross and in the humanitarian world generally."