British charity worker Khalil Dale has been killed in Pakistan after being kidnapped in January, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday.
Dale was managing an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) health programme in the city of Quetta when he was kidnapped in January.
His body was found beheaded on the outskirts of the city. Local police said that Mr Dale's body was found in an orchard, with a note attached saying that he was killed because no ransom was paid to his captors.
Safdar Hussain, a doctor who examined the aid worker's body, said that his throat had been slit.
"A sharp knife was used to sever his head from the body," Hussain told the Reuters news agency. "He was killed about 12 hours ago."
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 ICRC said the 60-year-old health-programme manager was murdered four months after he was kidnapped.
"The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act," said Director-General Yves Daccord in a statmenet. “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," said Yves Daccord. ‘’Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause."
Khalil had previously worked in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was formerly known as Ken Dale, before he converted to Islam.
The ICRC said:
He had been working as a health-programme manager in Quetta/Balochistan for almost a year. At about 1 p.m. on 5 January 2012, he was abducted by unidentified armed men while returning home from work.
The ICRC has been active in Pakistan since 1947, providing humanitarian services in the fields of health-care, in particular physical rehabilitation, including in Balochistan.
Prime Minister 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."
Dale been abducted by gunmen in Quetta as he made his way home in a clearly-marked ICRC vehicle on 5 January. His assailants are said to have bundled him into a car some 200 meters from an ICRC residence, in an upscale housing complex.
At the time, police in Quetta said Mr Dale was abducted by unknown assailants riding a Landcruiser, following a visit to a local school. He had been travelling with a Pakistani doctor and a driver, who were not seized.
Speaking in January, the ICRC called for Mr Dale's "rapid and unconditional release" and said that his family had been informed immediately.
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.
It was not the first time a foreigner had been kidnapped from the region. In 2009, an American working for the United Nations refugee agency in the city was abducted and held for two months.
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.
Foreign Secretary Hague said he utterly condemned the killing and sent his deepest condolences to Mr Dale’s family.
"I learned with great sadness earlier today of the killing of Khalil Dale by his kidnappers in Baluchistan province, Pakistan.
"Mr Dale, a British humanitarian worker, was kidnapped in January this year. Since then tireless efforts have been under way to secure his release, and the British Government has worked closely with the Red Cross throughout.
"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."