As the family of the 36-year-old raised concerns over the failed rescue mission which led to her death, David Cameron confirmed that Miss Norgrove may have died as a result of so-called ‘friendly fire’.The Prime Minister announced that a full investigation is being launched into the circumstances of the tragedy. It had initially been reported that Miss Norgrove died after her rebel captors detonated a suicide vest as American troops closed in on them. The victim’s parents have demanded a full explanation for the events surrounding her capture and failed rescue, amid claims that her release could have been negotiated.John and Lorna Norgrove are “devastated” by their daughter’s death and were joined at the weekend by their other daughter Sofie at their remote home on the Isle of Lewis.Speaking at a press conference at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said it was not yet certain that Miss Norgrove’s death was caused by allied forces.US commander General David Petraeus informed Downing Street this morning that a review of the rescue operation had uncovered new information suggesting that a grenade detonated by taskforce members may have been to blame. Mr Cameron informed Miss Norgrove’s family of the “deeply distressing development” before making his announcement at a scheduled press conference which was delayed by almost an hour.He said the decision to mount a rescue operation was made by Foreign Secretary William Hague “after careful consideration” and had his full support as Prime Minister.Ms Norgrove’s life was in “grave danger” from the moment she was seized, and there were fears that she might be passed up the terrorist chain and put at greater peril if she was not rescued.”I am clear that the best chance of saving Linda’s life was to go ahead, recognising that any operation was fraught with risk for all those involved and success was by no means guaranteed,” said Mr Cameron.
None of us can understand just how painful this must be for Linda’s family,” he said.
“Also it is deeply regrettable, particularly for them, that the information published on Saturday is highly likely to have been incorrect.”The statements were made in good faith and on the basis of the information that we received.”I want to assure Mr and Mrs Norgrove that I will do everything I possibly can to establish the full facts and give them certainty about how their daughter died.”Mr Cameron said General Petraeus had treated the hostage “as if she was a US citizen” and that “he and the US forces did everything in their power to bring Linda home safely”.
“The US forces placed their own lives in danger. General Petraeus has told me they are deeply dismayed at the outcome. I want to thank them for their courage,” he said.He added: “Linda’s death is a tragedy for her family and those who worked alongside her in Afghanistan. She was a dedicated professional doing a job she loved in a country she loved.”
Following his discussions with Gen Petraeus this morning, the PM spoke to Ms Norgrove’s father, John, to inform the family about what he had been told.”My thoughts and the thoughts of the whole country are with them, as they come to terms with the death of their daughter and this deeply distressing development,” said Mr Cameron.Foreign Secretary William Hague will make a full statement to MPs in the Commons this afternoon.Yesterday, Afghan elders insisted they could have negotiated her safe release but claimed Nato refused to call off a special forces operation.Responding to Mr Cameron’s comments, Mr Norgrove, Linda’s father said: “We are not saying anything to the press at the moment. We might issue a statement in another day or two, we’re not certain, but now we are not saying anything.”
Miss Norgrove, from Uig in the Isle of Lewis, was working for the US-based Development Alternative Inc, responsible for a £94 million project in unstable parts of eastern Afghanistan.She was on her way to an opening ceremony of a canal in the province of Kunar when she was abducted alongside three Afghans, who were later released.Steve O’Connor, from DAI, said everyone was still in shock at news of her death and that operations had been “curtailed” in the area for the time being.He said it was the first time that a DAI employee had been killed in a hostage situation: “We have been hoping since the 26th September and now we have seen these hopes dashed.”Mr O’Connor said DAI had been in touch with the Norgrove family to offer support and was keen to know what had happened.“We are assuming that there will be a very thorough analysis, we are just waiting to find out,” he said.“We don’t want to second guess anything, but like everyone else, we want to know what happened.” Mr O’Connor said DAI had taken its instructions throughout the abduction from the Foreign Office and security professionals.
The family recorded a film and wrote a script, pleading for Miss Norgrove’s release, but it was never released on the advice of officials.It is understood she died after one of her captors detonated a suicide bomb as US forces stormed the compound where the former UN employee was being held.Yesterday, the leader of a 22-strong Afghan delegation – dispatched by the Afghan authorities to talk to the insurgents – said he was confident that they could have won her freedom.Kamel, who like many Afghans uses only one name, told The Daily Telegraph: “We were 100 per cent sure if they had stopped the operation we could have negotiated and we could have released her.”The group of elders was on its way from Kunar to talk to Mullah Basir, a commander believed to be holding the aid worker.However as they neared their destination, they claimed that Nato refused to call off intense operations to find Miss Norgrove.
The delegation feared it would be accidentally hit by an air strike if it ventured further into the mountainous remote terrain where Nato forces regularly battle insurgent gangs.The elders said they had peacefully resolved a string of kidnaps earlier this year, including the abduction of the district governor and the seizure of several construction workers.However, diplomatic sources said there was a real fear Miss Norgrove would be taken into the tribal Pakistani border region where she would be passed to an al Qaeda-linked group.One official said: “The decision to launch the rescue mission was made given the area that she was in and the groups that we knew were operating in the area.”Timing was a factor, as she was moving closer to the border.“There had been on going conversations all the time she had been taken. We were not opposed to negotiation.“Local elders had been trying to use local contacts to try and release her peacefully.”Prayers were said on Sunday for Miss Norgrove and the soldiers involved in trying to rescue her – Telegraph