American security forces in Afghanistan were on Monday facing accusations of a "cover-up" after it emerged that a young woman British aid worker who was earlier alleged to have been killed by her Taliban captors may have "accidentally" died in a grenade attack by U.S. forces during a botched rescue operation.
It had been earlier claimed that Linda Norgrove (36), who was seized by militants in Kunar province on September 26, died when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest as western security forces tried to rescue her.
But, on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron said new details had emerged suggesting that she may have been killed in a U.S. grenade attack. Describing the development as "deeply distressing", he said he was told by General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander leading the NATO forces in Afghanistan, that the original claims were highly likely to have been incorrect.
The BBC quoted British officials as saying they were "dumbfounded" and that it raised "questions about the manner of the assault".
"It raises questions about the way in which the American media operation has disseminated this suggestion that she died at the hands of her captors quite unequivocally for 48 hours," said its correspondent in Kabul.
Mr. Cameron, however, defended the rescue mission and said it had full British support. He said an investigation had been launched to "get to the bottom of what happened" and its findings would be made public.