Kidnapped Aid Worker in Afghanistan Killed During Rescue

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron chats with British troops during his visit to southern Afghanistan in June 2010. He defended efforts to retrieve British aid worker Linda Norgrove, who was abducted in Afghanistan last month and was killed during the rescue operation. Photo by: Crown copyright

As U.S. special forces arrived in a mud-walled compound in Dineshgal, Kunar, one of Linda Norgrove’s captors detonated a suicide vest, which fatally wounded the British aid worker, according to a NATO spokesman. Norgrove was abducted last month in the Afghan province.

“[U.S. special forces] had entered the compound … [but] an insurgent detonated an explosive device that was attached to his person. He was in close enough proximity to Miss Norgrove,” the spokesman said during an Oct. 9 press briefing in Kabul, as quoted by the Guardian. “She was wounded. Soldiers – who were on the scene very, very shortly afterwards – attempted to provide medical care at the scene. She was evacuated straight away but succumbed to her wounds.” 

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague ascribed responsibility for Norgrove’s death to the hostage takers.

“Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the hostage takers,” Hague said in a statement.”From the moment they took her, her life was under grave threat. Given who held her, and the danger she was in, we judged that Linda’s best chance lay in attempting to rescue her.”

Norgrove was employed by U.S. development contractor DAI to help implement a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded project in Afghanistan. She played a senior managerial role on the program called IDEA-NEW, or Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, and West, which aims to create jobs, boost local economies, and strengthen local Afghan leadership in unstable and vulnerable areas.

“Linda loved Afghanistan and cared deeply for its people, and she was deeply committed to her development mission. She was an inspiration to many of us here at DAI and she will be deeply missed,” DAI President and CEO James Boomgard said in a statement.

Norgrove and three of her Afghan colleagues were kidnapped on Sept. 26 on their way to attend a ceremony on the completion of a project she had overseen. Her colleagues were released unharmed last week, BBC reports.

>> 4 Aid Workers Abducted in Afghanistan

>> Search for Abducted Aid Workers in Afghanistan Continues

“You know she didn’t need to go for the completion ceremony of that project, but the only reason she wanted to go there was to show her love and commitment to the people of Kunar province,” a colleague of Norgrove, who was working with her in Jalalabad, told BBC. “Everyone in our office is crying including our Afghan and foreign colleagues. Starting from the boss of the office even to drivers and guards are shocked and crying. No one thinks that she was a colleague, but it looks like she was part of everyone’s family and we have lost one of our dearest.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said it had been “right to try” to rescue Norgrove.

“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,” Cameron was quoted by BBC as saying.

Robert Watkins, the United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, has also denounced the killing of Norgrove.

“We condemn the killing of Linda Norgrove,” Watkins said in a statement. “The increasing violence which targets humanitarian and development workers, as well as civilians in Afghanistan is unacceptable.”

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.

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