Norgrove family praises US honesty over killing

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The parents of a British aid worker fatally injured during an attempt to rescue her from Afghan kidnappers have praised the United States for admitting that one of their soldiers may have killed her.

Linda Norgrove is thought to have been killed by a grenade thrown by a US special forces soldier during an assault on the kidnappers' base on 8 October. Her parents, John and Lorna Norgrove, spoke yesterday of the "absolute nightmare" of losing their daughter but insisted they bore the American troops no grudge. Moreover, they said it was "very creditable" of the US authorities to admit that she may have been killed by one of their own troops.

"The rescue attempt, it would appear to us, was so close to being a total success and at the end there was what appears to have been a human error," said Mr Norgrove, who described his daughter's captors as "extremely dangerous and militant criminals".

He went on: "We do think that it is very creditable of the Americans to own up that there has been a mistake when they could so easily have covered the whole thing up and we do think they deserve credit for that. But we have obviously got to wait for the outcome from the report which the British and American military are making."

Mrs Norgrove added: "We don't want to enter the blame game. Linda is dead and there's nothing we can do to change that, we're just immensely proud of what she was doing in Afghanistan and we want to continue her work in some way."

Miss Norgrove, 36, was based in Jalalabad supervising reconstruction programmes funded by the US government in the eastern region of Afghanistan when she was kidnapped with three of her Afghan colleagues, who were later released.

Her parents, from the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles, said yesterday that they had set up a charity called the Linda Norgrove Foundation to continue the humanitarian work she was devoted to.

She had, her mother said, come to love the Afghan people. "I knew that she'd grown to love Afghanistan and love the people and I knew that that's where her heart was and she wanted to do humanitarian work there. I think that's what was so important to her and what she felt that she had to do," she said.

The couple said they had feared for their daughter's safety before she was kidnapped, but knew she was doing what she wanted and had been determined to travel to Afghanistan.

"I told her our worst nightmare was that she might be kidnapped," her father said. "But we had to accept she'd been adventurous, she'd done risky things before. We came to the conclusion she was capable of judging the risks and minimising them and was far better at doing that on the ground in Afghanistan than we were on a croft in Scotland."

He said he and his wife had been on an "emotional rollercoaster" since first learning of the kidnapping as they arrived home from a day's climbing. "I got through that period to an extent by imagining the elation of meeting up with Linda when she returned home in Stornoway Airport and just imagining how that would be," he said. "So it came as an absolute nightmare two weeks later to have a visit from the police at three o'clock in the morning to say she had been killed in a rescue attempt."