Officials say a British doctor who worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Pakistan has been killed by the gang that kidnapped him nearly four months ago.
Police said the decapitated body of Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was found on April 29, dumped by the roadside on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province near the Afghanistan border.
Dale, who had been managing a Red Cross health program in Quetta for around a year, was kidnapped on January 5 by unidentified armed men.
A statement from Red Cross Director-General Yves Daccord said the organization "condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act," and said the Red Cross shares the “grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the murder as a "senseless and cruel act" targeting someone who was helping the Pakistani people. Hague said "tireless efforts" had been under way to secure his release.
Police said a note attached to the body by the kidnappers suggested that Dale was killed because no ransom was paid for his freedom.
The Red Cross said Dale, a Muslim, was a veteran employee who had worked previously for the group in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia.
The group behind the kidnapping remains unclear.
Ethnic Baloch separatists, pro-Taliban militants, and criminal gangs are active in the region, and wealthy Pakistanis and foreigners have become targets for kidnapping by groups seeking hefty ransom payouts.
The province -- Pakistan’s largest but poorest region -- has seen a surge in violence in recent years in connection with the separatists, who are seeking more autonomy and a greater share of the region’s oil, gas, and mineral resources.
The region has also hosted thousands of refugees from the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan -- some of whom seek treatment at Red Cross clinics.
After Dale’s abduction in January, the Red Cross, which had earlier announced a reduction of its activities in Pakistan, vowed to continue its work in the country. In Balochistan, the Red Cross focuses mainly on health programs and operates a number of clinics.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP