New information on the failed attempt to rescue British aid worker Linda Norgrove indicates that her death might have been inadvertently caused by the detonation of a grenade thrown by a member of the elite U.S. special operations forces who tried to save her.
Norgrove, who was abducted in Afghanistan last month, managed to break away from her captors and took cover by laying in fetal position during the rescue operation, the Guardian’s sources in Kabul and London have confirmed.
The soldier, who is part of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six, failed to see Norgrove and tossed a fragmentation grenade toward her direction. The device exploded next to her.
The soldier thought the fragmentation grenade was a smoke grenade, The Atlantic’s politics editor, Marc Ambinder, cited a senior military official as saying.
A fragmentation grenade, as opposed to a smoke grenade or a stun grenade, is generally not used in a rescue operation. But the rescuers carried them during the attempt to retrieve Norgrove to give them more flexibility in the event of a firefight with her Taliban kidnappers, according to the Guardian.
The soldier, whose identity has been withheld, is expected to face disciplinary action after failing to immediately inform his commanding officer of the use of the grenade. A review of the rescue bid’s surveillance video showed the soldier throwing the grenade, which fatally wounded Norgrove.
>> What Really Killed Linda Norgrove?
Initial reports claimed that the British aid worker was killed by a suicide vest detonated by one of her Taliban captors.
Norgrove’s family has thanked the U.S. forces for “not sweeping under the carpet” the details of her death, the Guardian reports.
A joint U.S.-U.K. probe is underway to categorically determine the cause of Norgrove’s death.
A native of Scotland, Norgrove managed the World Wildlife Fund’s forest program in Peru from 2002 to 2005. Until 2008, she worked on United Nations projects in Afghanistan. She served with the U.N. Environment Program through 2009. In 2010, she went back to Afghanistan to work on a DAI project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“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.