Suicide vest blamed for Briton's death in Afghan rescue bid

10th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British female aid worker in Afghanistan who died during a botched US rescue raid was likely killed by an exploding suicide vest held by one of her captors, a government source in London said Sunday.

Linda Norgrove, 36, was working for US development group DAI when she and three Afghan staff were captured on September 26 while travelling in Kunar, a hotbed of Taliban activity in eastern Afghanistan bordering Pakistan.

An international operation was launched to rescue her, carried out late Friday by US forces, but she died during the attempt.

"All the information we have is that she was killed by an explosion, most likely a suicide vest held by a hostage taker," a British government source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"Nothing at all suggests US fire was the cause of the death."

On Saturday an Afghan intelligence official had suggested that Norgrove was killed by a grenade thrown into the room where she was being held as the US forces approached. The troops then killed all her captors, the official said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the decision to try to rescue Norgrove, saying it had been her "best chance" of survival.

"Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the hostage takers," he said, announcing her death in London on Saturday.

"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."

Norgrove's father, John, told the Sunday Times he was "devastated" by the death of his eldest daughter.

Speaking from the family's home in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, he said: "We've only known for a few hours -- we are devastated."

Norgrove's aid worker colleagues paid tribute to her work, both in Afghanistan where she worked for DAI and previously for the United Nations.

"Linda loved Afghanistan and cared deeply for its people, and she was deeply committed to her development mission. She was an inspiration to many of us here at DAI and she will be deeply missed," said DAI president James Boomgard.

© 2010 AFP

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