Scotland

Linda Norgrove died of fragment injuries, inquest hears

Linda Norgrove
Image caption Linda Norgrove died during a rescue attempt

A 36-year-old UK aid worker killed during an attempted hostage rescue in Afghanistan died of head and chest injuries, a coroner has been told.

An inquest into Linda Norgrove's death was opened and adjourned by Wiltshire coroner David Ridley in Salisbury.

He heard the Scottish woman's death was caused by fragments entering her body.

It was first thought her captors killed her during the US rescue mission on 8 October but later evidence suggested a US grenade may have been to blame.

Miss Norgrove's remains were flown back to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire last week and the inquest into her death is being held at the nearest coroner's court, in Salisbury.

At the time of her death, Miss Norgrove was working for American-based aid organisation Development Alternatives Inc (DAI).

Passport photograph

She was kidnapped in the Dewagal valley in the Kunar province on 26 September while looking into the development of agricultural projects in the east of Afghanistan.

Based in Jalalabad, she had supervised reconstruction programmes funded by the US government.

She was abducted by insurgents as she travelled in a group split between two vehicles.

Three local staff were taken with her when the cars were ambushed. The staff were released unharmed but Miss Norgrove, who was kept captive for nearly two weeks, was killed during the rescue mission.

Det Ch Insp Colin Smith of the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism unit gave evidence to the coroner before the inquest was adjourned.

He said the three Afghans who had been seized with Miss Norgrove were released on 3 October.

But Miss Norgrove, he said, had been held in a compound in a densely wooded area.

He said: "Every effort was made to secure Linda's safe release. She was killed during this operation."

The former UN worker, whose passport photograph was used to identify her, was pronounced dead on 9 October at Bagram airfield, he said.

The court then heard that a post-mortem examination was carried out on 19 October by pathologist Dr Russell Delaney after Miss Norgrove's body was returned to the UK.

Inquiry

Mr Ridley was told the cause of death was "penetrating fragment injuries to her head and chest".

The coroner then allowed Miss Norgrove's body to be released to her family for her funeral next week.

The special service is due to take place on Tuesday at Uig Community Centre on the Isle of Lewis.

A statement released on behalf of her family said: "It will be a humanist ceremony followed by a traditional Lewis funeral procession and an interment at Ardroil cemetery. Friends and everyone who knows the family will be welcome."

A joint US/UK military inquiry into her death is currently under way.

It is being led by Brig Rob Nitsch, the head of Joint Force Support, UK Forces Afghanistan, and senior US investigating officer Maj Gen Joseph Votel.

On Friday it was also revealed that her family have also set up the Linda Norgrove Foundation - a charitable body which will build on the work Miss Norgrove was doing in Afghanistan.

It will fund schemes dedicated to helping women and families in Afghanistan. Her family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers at the funeral.

Image caption Linda Norgrove was kidnapped in the Kunar province in Afghanistan in September

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