U.S. troops may have killed kidnapped British aid worker during failed rescue attempt

By Alex Rodriguez

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – U.S. and British officials are investigating how a British aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan was killed during a failed rescue attempt by American troops, a mission that British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday may have inadvertently led to her death.

British officials initially announced that Linda Norgrove, 36, had been killed by her Taliban captors Friday during a rescue attempt carried out by U.S. special forces. Norgrove was kidnapped along with three Afghan colleagues two weeks ago in eastern Kunar province while visiting a development project there.

Militants had earlier freed Norgrove’s Afghan co-workers. However, on Monday, the U.S. military said in a prepared statement that a review of surveillance footage and interviews with members of the rescue team “do not conclusively determine the cause of her death.”

Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, ordered an investigation into Norgrove’s death, the statement said. In London, Cameron told a news conference that Petraeus had told him Norgrove may have been killed by a grenade thrown by a member of the U.S. rescue team.

Cameron said his foreign secretary, William Hague, had given the go-ahead to launch the rescue effort after deciding that Norgrove was at grave risk. Cameron said Hague’s decision had his support.

“We were clear that Linda’s life was in grave danger and the operation offered the best chance of saving her life,” Cameron told reporters. “I will obviously go over in my mind 100 times whether it was the right decision, but I profoundly believe it was.”

A former United Nations worker, Norgrove was working on a $150 million project for the U.S. aid group Development Alternatives Inc., aimed at strengthening local economies in Afghanistan. The decision to forge ahead with a rescue mission was made after NATO allies received a tip about Norgrove’s whereabouts.

Six militants holding Norgrove captive were also killed in the rescue bid.