PM condemns beheading of British doctor Khalil Dale

 

The murder of a British aid worker whose body was found dumped in an orchard in Pakistan has been condemned by the Prime Minister as a “shocking and merciless act”.

Khalil Dale, 60, was kidnapped at gunpoint in January while working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baluchistan province.

David Cameron said: "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.

"This was a shocking and merciless act, carried out by people with no respect for human life and the rule of law. Khalil Dale has dedicated many years of his life to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world and my thoughts today are with his friends and family."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he learned of the death "with great sadness", adding that "tireless efforts" had been made over the past months to secure Mr Dale's release.

Mr 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.

"My thoughts are with them, and with all those who have dedicated their lives to assisting the world's most vulnerable people through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement."

The health programme manager from Dumfries, Scotland, who changed his name from Ken after becoming a Muslim, had been working in Pakistan for nearly a year.

Mr Dale was travelling home from a local school, in a clearly-marked ICRC vehicle, when kidnappers bundled him into a car in the city of Quetta on January 5.

Yves Daccord, director general of the ICRC, said: "The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this 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.

"We are devastated. Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause."

Mr Dale had worked for the ICRC and the British Red Cross for many years, the charity said, having previously been posted in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

He had lived in Dumfries with his mother Margaret, who died in 2007, and previously worked at Dumfries Infirmary before becoming more involved in aid work. His family today released a picture of him that had been taken in Egypt the month before he was kidnapped.

Local police said that Mr Dale's body was found in an orchard near Quetta, with a note attached saying that he was killed because no ransom was paid to his captors.

Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob said the note read: "This is the body of Khalil who we have slaughtered for not paying a ransom amount."

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

Quetta is the main town of the insurgency-hit Baluchistan province, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

Situated close to Pakistan's border with southern Afghanistan, it is home to the Quetta Shura - the Taliban's leadership council - and is believed to direct a considerable portion of Taliban activity.

The Foreign Office advises against "all but essential travel to Quetta" and other parts of Baluchistan, warning on its website that "there is a heightened risk from kidnapping and militant activity" in the area.

PA

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