ISLAMABAD – The Red Cross has suspended operations across much of Pakistan following the killing of a British nurse working for the organization late last month, the group announced Thursday.
The move means many thousands of people will go without medical and other development assistance for the duration of the suspension. A bustling field hospital for war wounded in the northwestern city of Peshawar will close once patients have been transferred to other facilities, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
In a statement, the group said that operations would be stopped in the provinces of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Sindh. Work had already stopped in a third of the country's four provinces, Baluchistan, following the nurse's abduction there.
"We are painfully aware that these measures are having a severe and far-reaching impact on wounded, sick, physically disabled and other vulnerable people," said Paul Castella, the head of the ICRC delegation in Pakistan.
The body of Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was dumped close to the southwestern city of Quetta on April 29. A note attached to his body said he had been killed because a ransom was not paid. The veteran aid worker was kidnapped in the city in January.
No arrests have been made in connection with his killing. Islamist militants, separatist gangs and criminals with links to both have been accused of previous kidnappings in Baluchistan, a poor province close to the Afghanistan where the government has little control.
The ICRC has been helping victims of violence and natural disaster in Pakistan since 1947.