The Red Cross confirmed Monday it had been in contact with the kidnappers of a British aid worker before he was killed in Pakistan and said his murder would prompt a review of operations in the troubled country.
Sean Maguire, the humanitarian organisation’s spokesman in Britain, refused to say whether the captors had demanded a ransom for Khalil Dale, who was abducted in January in the southwestern city of Quetta.
Police in Pakistan said 60-year-old Dale’s body was found near Quetta, the capital of the insurgency-hit province of Baluchistan, on Sunday.
He had been beheaded and a note on his mutilated body said he was killed after his captors’ demands were not met.
“It’s inappropriate to go into the details of any contact we might have had with the abductors,” Maguire told BBC radio.
“We said that we had some contact with the abductors but we wouldn’t want to give succour to future kidnappers by saying yes, we countenanced paying a ransom.
“We did everything possible to try to get Khalil out and we’re very sad that our efforts failed.
“It doesn’t necessarily follow that because you don’t want to go into the details of any conversations that you may or may not have had that you countenance paying a ransom.” He said the organisation took a consistent and systematic approach to dealing with kidnappings.
Maguire said the Red Cross was in “horror” and would now review its operations in Pakistan.
“His death, to our mind, is senseless and barbaric,” he said.
“We will take stock and review what we should be doing and what the risk-benefit balance is of operating in different parts of Pakistan.”
The British government has a stated policy of not paying ransoms in hostage cases.
Dale is the third Westerner to have been kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan since January 2002, when US journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered in Karachi.
Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was killed in February 2009 after being seized in the town of Attock, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad. The Pakistani Taliban later released a video of his beheading.
There has been no claim of responsibility for Dale’s abduction or killing.
Senior Quetta police official Tariq Manzoor said Monday that the note recovered from Dale’s body was unsigned, contrary to what he said Sunday when he claimed the note was from Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban faction, Tehreek-e-Taliban. “There was some confusion,” Manzoor told AFP. Without a signature, police officials “concluded that this is from Taliban,” he added. After Dale was snatched on January 5, Manzoor said police traced a call in which the abductors demanded $30 million for his release.
“The call came from Afghanistan and we all suspected the captors are Taliban,” he said. The main Taliban spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment. One commander in the faction told AFP on condition of anonymity only that “there is nothing from our leadership on this issue so far”.
British PM ‘deeply saddened’ by death of abducted aid worker British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday paid tribute to the kidnapped British Red Cross worker found dead in Pakistan, calling his murder a “shocking and merciless act”. Cameron said he “was deeply saddened” to hear about the death of Khalil Dale, and accused the attackers of having “no respect for human life and the rule of law.” “This was a shocking and merciless act,” added the leader. “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,” he said in a statement. London had tried tirelessly to secure the release of the 60-year-old since his kidnapping in Baluchistan province in January, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an earlier statement. “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,” said Hague.