Pakistan News/Quetta: Unidentified gunmen on Thursday kidnapped a British employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan, police said.
The official was seized in Quetta, the main town of insurgency-hit Baluchistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.
Quoting witnesses, police said Khalil Ahmad Dale arrived in front of his office in a Land Cruiser where some eight masked gunmen were waiting for him in another vehicle.
One opened the door of Dale’s vehicle and kidnapped him at gunpoint, police said.
“The moment Dale reached in front of his office, unknown gunmen riding a Land Cruiser picked him and took him away,” Nazir Kurd, a senior police official in Quetta told AFP.
“Dale is a converted British Muslim,” Kurd said. “He has been working here for a year.”
The ICRC office is in a high security neighbourhood along with offices of other international organisations
“It was a British expatriate colleague. The incident occurred around 12:00 local time in the city of Quetta,” ICRC spokesman Christian Cardon told AFP in Geneva.
Cardon said he was abducted by several armed men as he headed for his house after work, according to local witnesses.
“We do not have information on the kidnappers,” Cardon said.
The ICRC announced this week a reduction of its activities in Pakistan, with the closure of three of its centres in the northwest of the country.
In Baluchistan, the ICRC mainly focuses on health programmes, and supports several health centres, including a hospital and an orthopedic ward.
In an interview with US broadcaster PBS, a Khalil Dale was described as working for the Red Cross in Somalia from 1991 to 1993.
In the interview with PBS, Dale said he had also been to a number of conflict zones including Afghanistan and Sudan.
Kidnappings are a plague in parts of Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban- and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
A senior ICRC official, quoted by Pakistan media, said his organisation was facing problems in Quetta, but gave no further details.
Baluchistan has seen a recent surge in violence, linked to a separatist insurgency, sectarian violence and Taliban militants.