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UK aid worker may have been killed by rescuers' grenade

Prince Myshkin

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British aid worker Linda Norgrove may have been accidentally killed by US forces during a rescue mission in Afghanistan, David Cameron has said.


International forces there originally said the 36-year-old died on Friday when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest.


But the prime minister said new details had come to light suggesting her death may have resulted from a US grenade.


He said he had spoken to her family about the "deeply distressing" news.


Mr Cameron defended the rescue mission, saying it had his full support as Ms Norgrove had been in "grave danger".


He said: "The decision to launch this rescue operation was not an easy one. You will understand that I can't discuss the intelligence which led us to conclude that a rescue operation was the best way forward


"But I am clear that Linda's life was in grave danger from the moment she was taken.


"Those on the ground and in London feared that she was going to be passed up the terrorist chain which would increase further the already high risk that she would be killed.


"I'm clear that the best chance of saving Linda's life was to go ahead, recognising that any operation was fraught with risk for all those involved, and success could by no means be guaranteed."


Mr Cameron said 12 meetings of the government emergencies committee, Cobra, had taken place before Foreign Secretary William Hague gave his go-ahead for the rescue attempt. His decision was then approved by the prime minister.


It had been thought that Ms Norgrove had been killed by her abductors just as US forces reached the compound in which she was being held in Afghanistan.


But at the start of a press conference in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said it had since emerged that she may have died as a result of a US grenade being detonated during the rescue.


Mr Cameron said the manner of her death had not been confirmed and everything was now being done to do establish certainty about the circumstances.


He said US military commanders had expressed their "deep regrets" about the possibility that she may have died in this way.


"We must get to the bottom of what happened, first of all so the family gets this information and knows exactly how their wonderful daughter died," he said.


He announced that a full US/UK investigation is being launched into the circumstances surrounding her death.


Mr Cameron said he was told of the new developments in a phone call with Gen David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, on Monday morning.


He had later spoken to Ms Norgrove's father, John, to inform the family about what he had been told.


"My thoughts and the thoughts of the whole country are with them, as they come to terms with the death of their daughter and this deeply distressing development," Mr Cameron told the conference.


"Linda's death is a tragedy for her family and those who worked alongside her in Afghanistan. She was a dedicated professional doing a job she loved in a country she loved."


Speaking from the Isle of Lewis, Mr Norgrove said: "We are not saying anything to the press at the moment. We might issue a statement in another day or two, we're not certain, but now we are not saying anything."


Mr Cameron added that Ms Norgrove, who was seized in the province of Kunar on 26 September, was being held in remote and high mountains, making the rescue operation very difficult.


He said Gen Petraeus had told him US forces were deeply dismayed at the outcome and said it was "deeply regrettable" that information published on Saturday about Ms Norgrove was highly likely to have been incorrect.


Three local staff were also kidnapped alongside Ms Norgrove when the two cars they were travelling in were ambushed. The staff were released unharmed last week.


The Briton, who was employed by US aid group DAI, is believed to have been taken by her captors from village to village as British, Afghan and other intelligence agencies searched the remote area.



It is depressing that I am not at all surprised.

That is not an anti-American statement by the way.

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