- Associated Press - Monday, October 11, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — NATO will investigate whether a grenade thrown by American military forces killed a British aid worker during a rescue attempt in Afghanistan last week, an alliance spokesman said Monday.

Linda Norgrove, 36, was killed Friday in the raid by U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province after she and three colleagues were kidnapped two weeks earlier. NATO initially said Ms. Norgrove died when captors detonated a bomb as NATO forces attempted to free her.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Ms. Norgrove possibly was killed by a grenade lobbed by a member of the U.S. special forces rescue team.

Mr. Cameron said he informed Ms. Norgrove’s family of the “deeply distressing development,” and he defended the decision to attempt the risky rescue mission.

“We were clear that Linda’s life was in grave danger, and the operation offered the best chance of saving her life,” Mr. Cameron told reporters in London.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman at NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, said Monday the rescue mission leader saw surveillance footage of the raid, talked with members of the rescue team and decided “it was not conclusive what the cause of her death was.”

The rescue mission leader spoke with the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who requested the investigation, Col. Dorrian said. The probe will be led by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Votel of U.S. Special Operations Command.

“It is our solemn responsibility to understand the circumstances that led to her death,” Gen. Petraeus said. “We will provide every measure of support to the investigation and will work closely with the British government to fully resolve this matter.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels the alliance will wait for the final outcome of the investigation before commenting.

“But whatever happened, I would like to stress that those who are responsible (for her death) of course are the captors,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said.

Ms. Norgrove, who worked for U.S.-funded Development Alternatives Inc., was abducted in an ambush Sept. 26 along with three Afghan colleagues, who were later released. Six kidnappers also died in the rescue attempt.

NATO also was investigating on Monday the deaths of two civilians in southern Afghanistan a day earlier. Initial reports indicated they were killed in a NATO airstrike.

A joint force was attacked with small-arms fire in Kandahar on Sunday, NATO said. Troops called in an airstrike and followed up by firing mortar rounds in Zhari district.

“Two civilians may have been accidentally killed,” said NATO, adding a child also was wounded. One insurgent died, it said.

An explosive device planted by insurgents killed three people and seriously wounded a child in southeastern Zabul province Monday, NATO said. An Afghan civilian also died in a roadside bombing in eastern Khost province.

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