UK aid worker was killed by US grenade
Thursday 02 December 2010
British aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed by a grenade thrown by US forces during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan, the Foreign Secretary said today.
The 36-year-old was seized by militants in Kunar province on September 26.
Updating MPs on an investigation into her death on October 8, William Hague told the Commons it was now clear her injuries were caused by a grenade thrown by her rescuers.
Mr Hague said the rescue attempt was carried out in "total darkness" in the Dewagal valley and involved assaults on a series of buildings on a mountainside.
One of two teams sent in to save Ms Norgrove landed near the lower group of buildings and her captors came out fighting.
He said: "A grenade was thrown by a member of the rescue team who feared for his own life and those of the team towards a gully from which some of the insurgents had emerged."
The Foreign Secretary said it was not until the team returned to the area from the higher group of buildings, where they believed Ms Norgrove was being held, that they realised she had been killed.
Mr Hague said: "Linda had been taken by her captors into the gully into which the grenade had been thrown and where her body was now discovered."
The former United Nations employee from the Western Isles was working for the firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) when she was captured during an ambush.
Based in Jalalabad, she supervised reconstruction programmes in the eastern region of Afghanistan funded by the US government.
Initial reports suggested she had been killed when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest.
An investigation was launched by the US military when conflicting evidence emerged.
The probe led by a 10-man team in Afghanistan involved sifting through hours of video footage and hundreds of pages of documents, Mr Hague said.
He said: "Although the US soldiers did report their own use of a grenade, this was not immediately reported up the military chain of command.
"It was only on later examination of the video footage that the possibility that a grenade was thrown became known to more senior officers.
"The investigation team found that the failure to disclose information that a grenade was thrown breached US military law.
"As a result, members of the rescue team have been disciplined for failing to provide a complete and full account of their actions in accordance with US military procedure."
An inquest into her death was held in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on October 22, which heard she died of penetrating fragment injuries to her head and chest.
Hundreds attended her funeral at Uig Community Centre on Lewis four days later.
Mr Hague paid tribute to Ms Norgrove's parents John and Lorna who set up a charity foundation in her memory.
He said: "I would like to pay tribute to Linda Norgrove's family, who have shown inspiring strength, dignity and fortitude throughout their terrible ordeal.
"They above all others deserve to have the fullest account possible.
"Throughout the investigation Foreign Office officials have been in close contact with the Norgrove family.
"Linda's parents John and Lorna were briefed yesterday on the outcome of this investigation, and I met them this morning to discuss its findings."
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