Dutch marines freed from Libya arrive home

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Three Dutch marines who had been held by Libya for nearly a fortnight returned home Saturday to the Netherlands, a military official said.

The three marines, two men and a woman, landed at Eindhoven military base in the south, base spokesman Harry van den Dries said.

"I am happy to be back, absolutely," said one of the troops as the trio emerged from the plane smiling and apparently in good health.

The three marines, the crew of a navy helicopter, were captured on February 27 in Libya's northern coastal city of Sirte while trying to evacuate two civilians by navy helicopter with no backup on board.

The two civilians, a Dutch engineer and one other European, were also detained before being handed over to the Dutch embassy in Tripoli and sent home.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said that no ransom had been paid. "Commitments, money, promises are not part of the agenda," he told Dutch public radio.

Last week a Greek defence ministry source said the operation to release the marines was agreed after the deputy Greek foreign minister made a request to an envoy of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Athens.

© 2011 AFP

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