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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

U.S. rescue forces may have killed abducted Briton


LONDON — A kidnapped British aid worker may have been killed by her American rescuers, rather than her Taliban captors, officials said Monday. The U.S. is leading a joint investigation with the British into the death.

NATO initially said Linda Norgrove died when her captors detonated a bomb as NATO forces moved in to free her. But Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, had informed him that Norgrove may have been killed by a grenade detonated by a member of the U.S. special forces rescue team during the Friday operation in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province.

“We were clear that Linda's life was in grave danger and the operation offered the best chance of saving her life,” Cameron told reporters during a news conference at 10 Downing St.

“I will obviously go over in my mind 100 times whether it was the right decision but I profoundly believe it was,” Cameron said.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman at NATO headquarters in Kabul, said Monday that the rescue mission leader saw surveillance footage of the incident and had discussions with members of the rescue team, and decided “it was not conclusive what the cause of her death was.”

The rescue mission leader spoke with Petraeus, who requested a full investigation, Dorrian said. The U.S.-British investigation will be led by U.S. Central Command.

Cameron said he had informed Norgrove's family of the “deeply distressing development.”

Norgrove, 36, who worked on a U.S.-funded aid project for Development Alternatives Inc., was abducted in an ambush on Sept. 26 along with three Afghan colleagues who were later released. Six kidnappers also died in the rescue attempt.

Cameron said Norgrove's family had been kept informed of the decision, which was made by Foreign Secretary William Hague with his full support.

He said the rescue operation was carried out by American rather than British forces because it was in an area of Afghanistan under U.S. command.

“I want to assure Mr. and Mrs. Norgrove that I will do everything I possibly can to establish the full facts and give them certainty about how their daughter died,” he added.

Norgrove's father, John, said the family had no comment.

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