Dutch negotiate for soldiers's release in Libya: ministry
The Netherlands are engaged in "intensive negotiations" to secure the liberty of three Dutch soldiers captured in Libya while attempting to rescue civilians, the defence ministry said Friday.
"We are still in the process of intensive negotiations regarding the release of our soldiers," ministry spokesman Otte Beeksma told AFP.
Dutch television on Thursday night broadcast images taken from Libyan television of the three soldiers, apparently in good health, captured by Libyan armed forces last Sunday.
The three were taken captive in Sirte in the north of Libya in a botched attempt to evacuate two civilians, a Dutch engineer and one other European, by navy helicopter.
Beeksma confirmed reports that the operation was carried out without authorisation from Libya, whose soldiers prevented the Lynx helicopter from taking off with the three Dutch marines and two civilians on board.
The civilians were later handed over to the Dutch embassy in Tripoli and returned to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
The Dutch marines in captivity are two pilots, one of them a woman, and a loadmaster. Beeksma said the team had no backup on the helicopter, which is based on the Dutch navy frigate Tromp.
The warship, initially scheduled to take part in anti-piracy patrols off Somalia, was rerouted to the Libyan coast where it arrived on February 25 to lend support for evacuation operations.
© 2011 AFP