Aid worker inquest to open

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The Independent Online

An inquest into the death of kidnapped aid worker Linda Norgrove will take place this week.

Ms Norgrove, from the Western Isles, was helping the Afghan people rebuild their war-torn country when she was taken hostage and then killed during a rescue attempt.



The 36-year-old was seized during an ambush in the Dewagal valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on September 26 last year.



She was killed by a grenade thrown by US special forces attempting to free her on October 8.



The inquest takes place at Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner's Court in Trowbridge on Tuesday.



Her parents John and Lorna, who live on Lewis in the Western Isles, are expected to attend. They have previously said that they do not hold anyone responsible for her death.



Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live last month, Mr Norgrove said: "We don't hold anybody responsible. I don't think it's a question of responsibility.



"Nobody deliberately intended to kill Linda. It was brave soldiers going in there in very difficult circumstances trying to mount a rescue and, unfortunately, it went wrong."



Asked how they try to rationalise what happened, Mr Norgrove said: "I don't think it's rationalisable.



"It's just two groups of men intent on killing each other and Linda is in the middle of it and things went wrong, people made mistakes. Maybe panicked. I don't know."



Ms Norgrove, a former United Nations (UN) employee, was supervising reconstruction projects for the firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) when she was captured.



Initial reports suggested that she was killed when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest during the rescue attempt.



An investigation led by US Major General Joseph Votel and British Brigadier Robert Nitsch found that she died when a grenade was thrown into a gully.



Intelligence had suggested she was being held in a group of buildings higher up the mountains.



Members of US Special Forces were disciplined after it was ruled that the failure to disclose information that a grenade was thrown breached US military law.



Mr and Mrs Norgrove have previously said they hope the official inquest into their daughter's death will concentrate on the rescue and on the events leading up to it.



Ms Norgrove was born in Altnaharra in Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands, the same area where her mother was raised.



She spent her childhood on the Isle of Lewis, five years in Ness, before the family moved to Mangersta in the Uig district.



The family lived in a croft and kept cattle and other small livestock.



Ms Norgrove gained a first-class honours degree in tropical environmental science from the University of Aberdeen and went on to do a masters degree in rural resources and environmental policy at the University of London.



Her studies and career took her around the globe and in 2002 she joined the World Wildlife Fund in Peru working on conservation, poverty reduction and protecting indigenous communities and their rights.



From 2005 to 2009 she worked with the UN on environmentally-sustainable development projects in Afghanistan.



After a brief spell working in Laos, she returned to Afghanistan in February 2010 as regional director for DAI.



At the time of her kidnapping, Ms Norgrove, who spoke Dari, an Afghan version of Persian, was working on the development of agricultural projects in unstable areas of Kunar province.



Based in Jalalabad, she supervised reconstruction programmes funded by the US government in the eastern region of Afghanistan.



Asked in the BBC Radio 5 Live interview whether their daughter spoke about her own safety and the dangers, Mr Norgrove said: "We knew that there were risks involved in Afghanistan.



"We weren't that happy about her going back there, but when your daughter gets, kind of, to mid-30s and she has been abroad for a few years, she makes her own decisions.



"Before she went originally to Afghanistan, I did say that my worst fear was that she might be kidnapped and she accepted that."



The Norgrove family have set up a charitable foundation, known as the Linda Norgrove Foundation, which is aimed at continuing her work.



Money raised will go to fund women and family-orientated schemes, such as children's orphanages and scholarships for Afghan women to attend university.



Last month she was posthumously awarded the 2011 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award in recognition of her humanitarian work in Afghanistan.

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