British hostage ‘may have been killed by US grenade’

By Ian Dunt

The British aid worker who died during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan last week may have been killed by US forces, it was revealed today.

Following a telephone call with US General Petraeus this morning, David Cameron told a Downing Street press conference that Linda Norgrove may have died as the result of a US grenade.

That finding was the result of a second US team reviewing a video of the operation and of interviews with those involved. It contradicts reports over the weekend that Ms Norgrove was killed when one of her captors detonated his suicide vest.

“None of us can understand just how painful this must be for Linda’s family,” the prime minister said.

Cameron press conference as-it-happened

“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.”

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A joint UK-US review of what happened has now been initiated and is expected to take several days to report back. The prime minister will meet with General Petraeus on Thursday to discuss the matter further.

Delivering a statement to the Commons this afternoon, foreign secretary William Hague said he authorised US forces to attempt to rescue Ms Norgrove on the very first day she was kidnapped.

Bad weather had prevented an operation taking place any earlier and he was concerned that she might soon be taken to a more remote location.

In her first appearance as shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper asked Mr Hague about the UK’s role in the planning of the operation – and why the Foreign Office had struck such a confident note when giving briefings about the killing over the weekend.

Mr Hague said he regretted any inaccurate information sent out by the government.

Ms Norgrove was working for the firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) at the time of her kidnap.