The Hague: Three Dutch soldiers were taken
prisoner at the weekend by armed men during an operation to
evacuate civilians from Libya, the Dutch defence ministry said
"We confirm it," a navy official told AFP when asked
about the capture of three marines Sunday reported by Dutch
daily De Telegraaf.
The paper said the three marines were captured by armed
men loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi while helping with
the evacuation from Sirte in northern Libya of two unnamed
civilians, one Dutch and another European, in a helicopter.
The marines were attacked after the helicopter landed.
The two civilians were handed over by the Libyans to the Dutch
embassy and have since left Libya, according to De Telegraaf.
"Intensive diplomatic discussions are underway for the
freeing of the prisoners," according to the Dutch defence
ministry quoted by ANP news agency.
The marines and the helicopter were based on board the
Dutch frigate Tromp. The warship, which was initially to have
taken part in an anti-piracy operation off Somalia, headed on
February 24 for the Libyan coast.
The failure of the rescue operation and the capture of
the Dutch marines were not made public earlier for security
reasons, De Telegraaf said.