Monday, 30 April 2012. The International Committee of the Red Cross has spoken of its attempts to free kidnapped UK aid worker Khalil Dale before he was murdered.
The 60-year-old was kidnapped in Quetta, Pakistan, in January. His body was found in the same town on Sunday.
ICRC spokesman Sean Maguire said it had been in touch with his abductors “a number of times”.
Pakistan expert Professor Shaun Gregory said such a killing was “actually quite rare” in that country.
Mr Maguire also said the death of Mr Dale, who was a Muslim convert, would weigh heavily on his colleagues.
“It’s a complex political reality on the ground in Pakistan. We’re certainly not identifying who we were in touch with.
“Often in these sorts of places people say they are something and it turns out that they’re not quite what they say they are.
“So we have to sift through the information we have and try to come to understand what has happened and take what lessons there are to be learnt.
“But his death will weigh heavily on colleagues working in Pakistan and colleagues working in headquarters who ultimately make the decisions about who goes where and who does what.”
ICRC 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. We are devastated.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the killing was “shocking and merciless”.
Mr Cameron said: “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.”
Some reports say the militants holding Mr Dale had asked for a very large ransom which could not be paid. His body was found in an orchard with a note saying he had been killed by the Taliban, local police said.
According to the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool, the Pakistani government has said it will stop at nothing to find the perpetrators and punish them.
Professor Gregory, who is director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at Bradford University, said he was surprised at the news of Mr Dale’s death.
“It is worth remembering that this type of killing is actually quite rare in Pakistan. We do have to see this as the sending of a message to those who are obviously going to be kidnapped in the future and when the Taliban are seeking ransom.
“I think the message going out from the Taliban here is, when we kidnap people in the future we are serious about harming these people, and that’s a very difficult message to deal with.”
Mr Dale, originally called Ken, lived and worked in Dumfries, south-west Scotland, in the 1990s.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “He had many friends around the world and regularly travelled back to Dumfries where he was well known and loved.”
He had worked for the ICRC and the British Red Cross for many years, carrying out assignments in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
British Red Cross chief executive Sir Nick Young said Khalil first worked overseas for the Red Cross in 1981 in Kenya, where he distributed food and helped improve the health of people affected by severe drought.
He also worked in Sudan before his posting to Pakistan.
Sir Nick added: “He was a gentle, kind person, who devoted his life to helping others, including some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“Care workers like Khalil, and his colleagues in dangerous places all over the world, should be allowed to work free from threats of abduction and violence.”
Pierre Krähenbühl, Red Cross spokesman: “We’re deeply shocked and outraged”
Foreign Secretary William Hague said “tireless efforts” had been carried out in an attempt to secure Mr Dale’s release, and that the British government “has worked closely with the Red Cross throughout”.
Shiela Howat, who worked with Mr Dale when he was a staff nurse at Dumfries Infirmary in the 1990s, said he was “no stranger to danger”, and had previously been captured in Mogadishu.
Mrs Howat, who knew Mr Dale for 25 years, said his fiancee Anne, who is also a nurse, lives in Australia.
“He was an absolutely lovely person devoted to caring for others less fortunate than himself,” she told the BBC.
“He spent his time in war-torn countries where help was needed, where people were desperate and that was Ken’s role in life.”