Taliban link to brutal murder of aid worker


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The Independent Online

The mutilated body of a British aid worker who was kidnapped earlier this year in Pakistan has been found in the south-western city of Quetta.

A note reportedly pinned to the corpse by the Pakistani Taliban said he was killed because no ransom had been paid.

A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that police had recovered the body of Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, who was managing a healthcare programme in the city. Mr Dale, who received an MBE for his humanitarian service, had previously worked in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

The aid worker, who had links with both Manchester and Dumfries, where many of his friends knew him as Ken, was seized on 5 January by eight suspected militants while he was travelling home in a marked vehicle. He had been in Pakistan for the best part of a year.

The director-general of the ICRC, Yves Daccord, expressed outrage at what he termed a "barbaric act".

David Cameron said he was "deeply saddened" by the death. "This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law," he said.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, issued a statement in which he said that, since Mr Dale had been seized, efforts had been made to secure his recovery. He said the British Government had worked with the ICRC. "I utterly condemn the kidnapping and killing of Mr Dale, and send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. This was a senseless and cruel act," he added.

Kidnapping of both Pakistanis and foreigners has steadily developed into a major source of income for militants and there are at least four other overseas nationals currently being held in the country. Last month, 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 ransom was paid to secure their freedom, though that has not been independently confirmed.

Last August, a 70-year-old American aid worker was kidnapped from his house in the city of Lahore, allegedly by al-Qa'ida. In a video, militants said the man, Warren Weinstein, would be released if the US stopped conducting air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, is home to separatist insurgents as well as Taliban militants. The area has long been plagued by violence perpetrated by both militants and the security forces. Located close to Afghanistan, Quetta has for many years been home to thousands of refugees from across the border.

Sheila Howat, a friend and former colleague of Mr Dale's, said Mr Dale was "no stranger to danger", having previously been captured in Mogadishu.

Mrs Howat added: "I knew him as Ken, and he was an absolutely lovely person, devoted to caring for others less fortunate than himself. He spent time in war-torn countries where help was needed and people were desperate, and that was Ken's goal in life."

Deadly risks: Other British victims

Margaret Hassan A veteran of Palestinian refugee camps in the 1970s, Hassan married an Iraqi and lived in Baghdad for three decades. She was kidnapped by militants in 2004 and later executed.

Linda Norgrove The Scottish aid worker was kidnapped by Taliban militants alongside three Afghan colleagues in September 2010. Died during a failed rescue attempt by US special forces.

Karen Woo One of 10 aid workers shot dead by unknown militants in Afghanistan in August 2010. The Taliban claimed, then denied, the killings.