Hostage Linda Norgrove's rescuers 'ignored Afghan advice'

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Afghan intelligence officials, the police and tribal elders say British aid worker Linda Norgrove would have been alive today if the international forces had paid heed to their advice.

They say the Dewagal valley, where Ms Norgrove was held captive, is one of Afghanistan's most notorious areas.

It is a remote mountainous area with unpredictable weather and no government worth the name.

A dialogue with her captors was the only way to secure her release, these people told the BBC.

US and UK governments have maintained a rescue operation held the best chance of a successful outcome for Ms Norgrove.

They feared she could be passed to a more extremist group, increasing an already high risk that she would be killed.

But an officer working for the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's spy agency, said while a delegation of mullahs, tribal elders and village chiefs was despatched to the area soon after her capture to negotiate with the militants, the coalition forces bombed several nearby locations, forcing the delegation to halt their mission.

He said he had personally requested that commanders of the coalition forces allow the elders to talk to Ms Norgrove's captors, but the permission was denied.

A local influential mullah from Khas Kunar district said he had spoken to tribal elders in Dewagal valley to put pressure on the militants to release Ms Norgrove.

He said direct and indirect talks were held with her captors and they were told that taking a woman hostage was against the Afghan culture and a violation of the tenets of Islam.

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

He said the captors were told that Ms Norgrove was an unarmed aid worker who was helping poor Afghans in the area and that she posed no threat to anyone.

He said Ms Norgrove would have been walking free today if the authorities had given the elders and the locals a chance.

But they instead relied on force, which doesn't really work in Dewagal, he said.

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