U.S. and British officials in Afghanistan are investigating the death of a kidnapped British aid worker killed during a rescue attempt Friday in eastern Kunar province. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Linda Norgrove, captured on September 26, may have been accidentally killed by the troops trying to save her, and not her Taliban captors, as initially reported.
Linda Norgrove died as American Special Forces attempted to rescue her from a compound in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. Initial reports claimed Norgrove was killed when her captors triggered an explosion near her.
Mr. Cameron says he has received different information from the commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus.
"General Petraeus has since told me that review has revealed evidence to indicate that Linda may not have died at the hand of her captors as originally believed," he said.
Mr. Cameron says American forces may have been involved.
"That evidence and subsequent interviews with the personnel involved suggest that Linda could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the assault, however this is not certain and a full U.S.-U.K. investigation will now be launched," he said.
Norgrove was a British citizen working for an American aid agency. She was kidnapped last month in Kunar province, in an area where American forces operate. Mr. Cameron says that is why U.S. forces led the rescue.
"It was right on this occasion to allow American forces to go ahead and attempt the rescue, it was a part of the country they control, ground that they know, and in the end you do have to listen I think pretty closely to the advice you are being given on the ground," said Mr. Cameron. "General Petraeus and others, and I want to praise what the American forces attempted and the bravery they showed."
British Special Forces are famed in Britain for their hostage rescue skills. Mr. Cameron said sending them in to rescue would not have been appropriate.
"I think it would have been quite unorthodox to overrule and insist on a particular set of forces to carry out an operation against the advice of extremely talented and professional commandos on the ground," he said.
Mr. Cameron said it was a difficult decision to approve the assault, but he says he stands behind it.
"I am clear that the best chance of saving Linda's life was to go ahead, recognizing that any operation was fraught with risk for all those involved and success could by no means be guaranteed," he said.
Mr. Cameron said he was sorry and deeply dismayed at the outcome of a tragic but complicated chain of events. He said the responsibility for Norgrove's death lies with those who took her hostage.