Several insurgents were killed in Friday’s attempt to free 36-year old Linda Norgrove. She and three Afghan colleagues were abducted last month in rugged eastern Kunar province, a lawless area bordering Pakistan where insurgent activity is high.
“It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker... was killed at the hands of her captors in the course of a rescue attempt,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
A Foreign Office source said US forces conducted the rescue attempt and that no British troops were involved. Media said that American special forces had mounted the operation.
Norgrove was abducted on September 26 but there had been a media blackout in order not to raise the value of the worker in the eyes of her captors.
Hague said responsibility for Norgrove’s death rested “squarely with the hostage takers” and that Britain had worked with allies to act on information that her life was in danger. The Foreign Office declined to elaborate.
British Prime Minister David Cameron defended the decision to mount a rescue attempt.
“Decisions on operations to free hostages are always difficult. But where a British life is in such danger, and where we and our allies can act, I believe it is right to try,” he said in a statement.
It was unclear whether the Taliban were behind the kidnapping.
Most violent yearThis year has been the most violent in the nine-year Nato-led campaign against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, and in August gunmen killed eight foreign medical workers, including British surgeon Karen Woo.
Born in Sutherland in northern Scotland, Norgrove was regional director of a USAID project designed to create jobs and strengthen the economy in unstable areas, a plan seen as key to robbing the Taliban of support among the Afghan population. She spoke Dari, an Afghan version of Persian.