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Kidnapped aid worker killed during rescue attempt in Afghanistan

Linda Norgrove in a picture released by the U.K.'s Foreign Office on behalf of her family.
Linda Norgrove in a picture released by the U.K.'s Foreign Office on behalf of her family.Provided by the U.K. Foreign Office
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A British aid worker working for a USAID project — kidnapped in Afghanistan last month — was killed by her captors during rescue attempt Friday night, the U.K. government said Saturday.

Linda Norgrove, 36, originally from Scotland, and three colleagues were kidnapped in eastern Kunar province on Sept. 26 after being ambushed.

Police fought a gunbattle with the kidnappers near the attack site before the assailants fled.

Her three Afghan colleagues were released shortly after being abducted.

The U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his "deep regret" in a statement Saturday, which said she 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," he said.

"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," Hague added.

"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," he said.

'A country she loved'
He said that the U.K. did not make concessions to people who take hostages.

"But whenever British nationals are kidnapped, we and our allies will do everything in our power to free them," Hague said in the statement.

"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," he said.

Norgrove was born in Sutherland, Scotland, and spent her childhood in the Outer Hebrides, islands off the west coast of Scotland, according to biographical details released by the U.K. Foreign Office.

She gained a 1st class honors degree in tropical environmental science at Aberdeen University, Scotland, spending a year at the University of Oregon in 1993-94.

Norgrove also studied in London, Manchester and San Christobel, Mexico. She obtained a doctorate in development policy and management, spending 22 months in Uganda, studying how park management regimes affected the indigenous people.

She previously worked for the World Wildlife Fund in Peru and the United Nations in Laos. She worked for the United Nations in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2008, returning in February 2010.

She was latterly the regional director for a five-year, $150 million USAID project designed to create jobs, boost the economy and improve local Afghan leadership.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the company Norgrove worked for. She was a private contractor working for USAID.