Body of kidnapped ICRC official found -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Body of kidnapped ICRC official found

Saleem Shahid

QUETTA: The body of a kidnapped British official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dr Khalil Rasjed Dale, was found in an orchard near the Airport Road on Sunday morning.

“The beheaded body of Dr Dale, kidnapped on Jan 5, was in a plastic bag dumped in the apple orchard,” a police officer said.

The ICRC official was a British national of Yemeni origin.

The killers left a chit with the body saying that they had kidnapped Dr Dale and killed him because the ICRC did not pay the ransom they had demanded. It said the video of the killing would also be released.

Taliban had earlier claimed to have kidnapped the official.

According to sources, the kidnappers contacted the ICRC last month and demanded $30 million for his release. There was no official confirmation about the ransom demand.

Dr Dale was kidnapped from the Chaman Housing Society when he was returning home from his office.

“The ICRC has now received confirmation that Khalil, a 60-year-old Health Programme Manager in Quetta, Balochistan, was murdered almost four months after his kidnapping,” a statement issued by the ICRC in Islamabad said.

After receiving information about the presence of a body in the orchard near the western bypass, police took it to the Civil Hospital.

“This is the body of Dr Khalil Rasjed Dale” were the words written on the bag with a black marker, a police officer told Dawn.

Local ICRC officials identified the body in the hospital.

Police Surgeon Dr Safdar Hussain said the body appeared to be 12 to 15 hours old. “He was slaughtered with a sharp knife,” he said. No other marks of torture were found on the body.

Hospital sources said the body would be handed over after autopsy to the ICRC on Monday.

According to the sources, the body will be taken to Islamabad on a special ICRC plane.

The ICRC had suspended its health projects in Balochistan and other NGOs had also reduced their work in the province after the kidnapping.

“A rehabilitation centre for disabled people run by the ICRC in the Christian Hospital was not working since the kidnapping,” the sources said.

The local administration beefed up security for all UN organisations and foreign NGOs and deployed more security personnel in different areas of the city.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani condemned the killing.

He said that the elements involved in the crime were enemies of the country and the province whose act was aimed at defaming Pakistan.

He pledged that the killers would be brought to justice soon.

Kalbe Ali adds from Islamabad: “The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act,” the organisation’s Director General Yves Daccord said. “All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends.”

Dr Dale had been working for the ICRC and the British Red Cross for many years and carried out assignments in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. In Quetta, he worked as health programme manager for almost a year.

According to a local journalist, the UNHCR chief in Quetta, John Solecki, had also been kidnapped from Chaman Housing Society in 2009. He was freed recently after payment of ransom.

Reuters adds: British Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the killing. “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.”

The doctor is the third Westerner killed in such a fashion in Pakistan after Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 and Piotr Stanczak, a Polish geologist, in 2009.

In March, a Swiss couple that had been abducted in Balochistan showed up at an army checkpoint after eight months of captivity. Militants said a ransom had been paid.

In August last year, American aid worker Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from his home in Lahore and Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.