Kidnapped British aid worker killed in Afghanistan in failed rescue mission by U.S. special forces

By Richard James
Last updated at 4:00 PM on 9th October 2010


  • Aid worker was kidnapped almost three weeks ago
  • Hague confirms 36-year-old killed by her captors

A British aid worker captured in Afghanistan last month has been killed in a failed rescue mission.

Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed today that Linda Norgrove, 36, was killed by her captors during a raid thought to have been carried out by by U.S. special forces and Afghan troops on Friday night.

The Briton was kidnapped along with three of her Afghan colleagues by armed men in  the eastern province of Kunar on September 26.

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Aid worker: The Foreign Office confirmed on Saturday Briton Linda Norgrove had been killed in a failed rescue mission

Kidnapped British aid worker Linda Norgrove, 36, was killed in a failed rescue mission in Afghanistan on Friday night

Ms Norgrove was working for US aid group Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) when the two-car convoy she was travelling in was stopped by the gunmen.

 

Mr Hague said in a statement on Saturday: 'It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker who had been held hostage in eastern Afghanistan since 26 September, was killed at the hands of her captors in the course of a rescue attempt last night.

'Working with our Allies we received information about where Linda was being held and we decided that, given the danger she was facing, her best chance of safe release was to act on that information.

British aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed by her kidnappers

Ms Norgrove had been working for US aid group DAI when she was taken hostage by armed men

'Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the hostage takers.

'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.'

Ms Norgrove's three Afghan colleagues were earlier released shortly after being abducted.

Mr Hague went on in his statement to thank Britain's Nato and Afghan allies for 'doing all they could to secure the safe release of Linda'.

Ambush: Kunar Province in Afghanistan where Linda Norgrove was kidnapped on September 26

Ambush: Kunar Province in Afghanistan where Linda Norgrove was kidnapped on September 26

A life packed with adventure: The woman who helped people around the world

Born in 1974 in Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands, Linda Norgrove spent her childhood on the Isle of Lewis.

She started her secondary education in Uig but later transferred to the Nicholson Institute in Stornoway.

In 1992 she started at the University of Aberdeen where she gained a first class degree in tropical environmental science and took the top class prize.

During her studies she spent a year at the University of Oregon in the U.S. and later went on the the University of London where she graduated with a distinction in a masters degree in rural resources and environmental policy.

A stint of postgraduate research at the University of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, followed before Ms Norgrove began a PhD in development policy and management at the University of Manchester.

As part of the course she spent almost two years carrying out field research around Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda studying indigenous peoples.

In 2002 Ms Norgrove, who was fluent in Spanish, started working for the WWF in Peru, as forest programme leader.

She then went to Afghanistan where she worked for the United Nations in Kabul from 2005 to 2008.

During that times she was involved in schemes to build roads and irrigation canals and to retrain ex-soldiers.

In 2008 Ms Norgrove joined the United Nations, in Laos, as an environmental specialist .

She returned to Afghanistan though and joined DAI. Based in Jalalabad, she began supervising U.S. government-funded construction programmes.

On September 26 2010 she was abducted by gunmen as she travelled in a convoy of two vehicles in Kunar province.

Three Afghan nationals who were kidnapped along with Ms Norgrove were released last week.

On Saturday October 9 Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed the 36-year-old had been killed by her captors in a failed rescue mission the night before.

'Hostage taking is never justified and the UK does not make concessions to hostage-takers.

'But whenever British nationals are kidnapped, we and our allies will do everything in our power to free them,' he added.

'It is a tragedy that Linda was taken whilst doing the job she loved in a country she loved.

'Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this terrible time and I would ask the media to allow them time to come to terms with their sad loss.'

Prime Minister David Cameron also said it had been 'right to try' to secure Ms Norgrove's release.

'My thoughts are with Linda's family, who will be devastated by this tragic news. She was doing valuable work for the Afghan people,' Mr Cameron said in a statement.

'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.

'I pay tribute to the courage and skill of all those involved in this effort, and join the Foreign Secretary in condemning hostage taking.'

Ms Norgrove had carried out aid work all around the world and spent a number of years working in Afghanistan for various groups, including the United Nations.

Based in Jalalabad, she had been supervising reconstruction programmes in the eastern region of Afghanistan funded by the US government.

The Foreign Office initially requested a media blackout following her kidnapping last month in the hope the lack of exposure would convince her captors to release her.

Abdul Marjan Adel, a local provincial official, said at the time Ms Norgrove, two Afghan drivers and a security guard were being held in a 'very remote area' of the country following the ambush in the Chawkay district of eastern Kunar province.

Tributes were paid to Ms Norgrove on Staurday, with General David Petraeus, the top war commander in Afghanistan, saying Afghan and coalition security forces had done 'everything in their power' to rescue her.

'Linda was a courageous person with a passion to improve the lives of Afghan people, and sadly she lost her life in their service,' he said.

'Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.'

DAI President and CEO James Boomgard also described Ms Norgrove as a 'wonderful woman' and an 'inspiration'.

In a statement, he said: 'This is devastating news. Our first thoughts at this moment are with Linda's immediate family.

'On behalf of all DAI employees, I extend to them our heartfelt condolences for their terrible loss.

'We are saddened beyond words by the death of a wonderful woman whose sole purpose in Afghanistan was to do good - to help the Afghan people achieve a measure of prosperity and stability in their everyday lives as they set about rebuilding their country.

'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.'

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond conveyed his own condolences to Ms Norgrove's friends and relatives at the weekend.

'This is extremely sad and upsetting, and I extend my deepest condolences to Linda Norgrove's family and friends at this heartbreaking time.

'Ms Norgrove was a dedicated aid worker who was doing everything she could to help people in Afghanistan - hopefully that legacy of service in a humanitarian cause can be of some comfort to her loved ones in their time of grief.'

 

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

To: chlady, london
You wrote... "in the early days of war, american and britisher together, put thousands of warriors and non-warriors in metal containers like animals and closed the doors; and let them roast inside until each one of them died a miserable death.
QUESTION: What is your source for this?

Click to rate     Rating   18

This vile attrocity by the gutless yobbos who pretend to be fighting for a cause is yet another display of the cowardice of the scum who hide behind masks and religious or political rhetoric.
- James, from the side of a Cotswold hill, 9/10/2010 12:20


They were a radical group acting on their own and probably not Taliban. They are quite possibly not just our enemies but the Taliban's too as well as enemies of the Afghan people. It's probably best to wait til we all know more before saying what cause they were fighting for. I do agree they are scum though.

Click to rate     Rating   5

Has anybody ever thought about millions of people killed, millions made orphans and widows by british and american soldiers in the last 9 years?
- chlady, London, 9/10/2010 14:37


Yes we have but right now this is a story about a British aid worker who worked to help others and lost her life today. Try showing some respect if you are able.

Click to rate     Rating   29

Hague said, the responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the hostage takers, did'nt you know mr Hague this is a war and if there is any responsibility it lies with those who started the war.

Click to rate     Rating   8

'Hostage taking is never justified and the UK does not make concessions to hostage-takers.

The UK do make concessions depending on the circs, for example in Basra when they let some militia leaders go free. Result on that occasion was a freed British hostage and an orderly unmolested retreat, sorry withdrawal, to Basra airport.

Click to rate     Rating   11

So tragic, sorry got to ask why is Clegg is the main story in this introverted news paper or did I just answer my own Q.

Click to rate     Rating   8

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