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US troops may have been responsible for British hostage death

A British hostage who died in Afghanistan during a US-led rescue mission may have been accidentally killed by the troops trying to save her, according to British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Linda Norgrove

Norgrove may have been killed accidentally by US troops

Linda Norgrove, the 36-year-old British aid worker who died in Afghanistan in a US-led rescue mission to free her from captors in Afghanistan, may have been killed by the very troops trying to save her, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

"Linda could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the result," Cameron told a news conference in London.

He said that the top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, had contacted him earlier on Monday to inform him that after a review of the incident new information had come to light with regard to the circumstances of Norgrove's death.

"General Petraeus told me that [the review] had revealed evidence to indicate that Linda may not have died at the hands of her captors as originally believed."

The announcement came a day after a British government official said Norgrove was likely killed by a suicide vest held by one of the kidnappers. No mention was made of her death being caused by the troops involved in the rescue operation.

Captors 'ultimately responsible'

Cameron said a US-UK investigation would be launched into the affair immediately but made it clear that his intent was not to incriminate any soldiers.

Kunar province, where Norgrove was held hostage

Kunar province is notorious for Taliban activity

"We should also remember that, ultimately, the responsibility for Linda's death lies with those who took her hostage. The US forces placed their own lives in danger. I want to thank them for their courage."

Cameron's words were echoed by Defense Secretary William Hague, who called the rescue operation Norgrove's "best chance" at survival.

"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," Hague told parliament after announcing her death on Saturday.

Norgrove had been active for the US development group DAI when she was captured while travelling in Kunar province, an area in eastern Afghanistan known as a hotbed for Taliban activity.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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