A British aid worker in Afghanistan was killed by her captors during a botched US rescue raid two weeks after being abducted at gunpoint in the war-torn country, British officials said on Saturday.
Linda Norgrove, 36, worked for US development group DAI. She and three Afghan staff were captured after their convoy was attacked in Kunar, a hotbed of Taliban activity in eastern Afghanistan bordering Pakistan.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced her death from London, saying she was killed by her captors during a rescue attempt late on Friday. He defended the operation as her “best chance” of survival.
“It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker who had been held hostage in eastern Afghanistan since Sept. 26, was killed,” Hague said.
According to an Afghan intelligence official, the rescue team was closing in on the house where Norgrove was being held when her captors threw a grenade into the room where she was kept, killing her.
The troops opened fire and killed all the captors, the official said on condition of anonymity. Western aid sources said the three Afghan staff had been released unharmed last week.
“Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the hostage takers,” Hague said. “From the moment they took her, her life was under grave threat. Given who held her, and the danger she was in, we judged that Linda’s best chance lay in attempting to rescue her.”
The foreign secretary did not say who carried out the operation, but a British government source said it was US forces acting as part of an international operation.
US General David Petraeus, the commander of coalition troops in Afghanistan, expressed his condolences and said: “Afghan and coalition security forces did everything in their power to rescue Linda.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his thoughts were with Norgrove’s family and that decisions on operations to free hostages were “always difficult, but where a British life is in such danger, and where we and our allies can act, I believe it is right to try. I pay tribute to the courage and skill of all those involved in this effort.”