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Monday 9 December 2019

British aid worker killed during Afghan rescue bid

Patrick Sawer in London

A British aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan two weeks ago has been killed during a failed rescue attempt.

Linda Norgrove, 36, died during an attempt to free her from the armed militant group who kidnapped her on September 26, the Foreign Office said yesterday.

She was killed last Friday night during a rescue operation, thought to have been carried out by US special forces who were working alongside Afghan troops.

Full details of the attempted rescue operation have yet to be released.

Miss Norgrove, who was brought up on the west coast of Lewis, in the Scottish isles, had been an aid worker for over 10 years and had previously worked on UN projects in Cambodia, Uganda and South America.

She had a doctorate in conservation and wildlife management and had worked in Afghanistan -- over two separate periods -- for around four years.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "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."

Miss Norgrove was abducted in Kunar province, north-east Afghanistan, alongside three Afghan nationals with whom she was thought to have been working.

The aid worker for Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) was travelling in a convoy of two vehicles when insurgents attacked their party.

Kunar police chief Khalilullah Zaiyi said officers chased after the kidnappers and were engaged in a brief firefight before the men escaped.

Mr Hague added: "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.

"I want to record my gratitude to our Nato allies and to the Afghan authorities and security forces for doing all they could to secure the safe release of Linda.

"Hostage taking is never justified and the UK does not make concessions to hostage-takers," said Mr Hague.

"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."

Miss Norgrove's name was not revealed during her ordeal for fear of jeopardising negotiations for her release.

Her parents had recorded a video appealing for their daughter's release, but she was killed before the Foreign Office gave the go-ahead for it to be broadcast.

© Telegraph

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