WASHINGTON – Four U.S. military personnel investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya were taken into custody at a checkpoint and then detained briefly by the Libyan government before being released, a U.S. official said Friday night.
No one was injured. The military personnel were taken to the U.S. Embassy after their release, a Defense Department official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity.
The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces protecting the American Embassy, the official said. They were likely U.S. special operations forces, which have been deployed to Libya.
An altercation apparently took place at a checkpoint near the town of Sabratha, the official said. Reports of gunfire could not be confirmed.
After they were detained at the checkpoint, the Americans were transferred to the Ministry of the Interior and held for a few hours, the official said.
The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli includes a security detail. The embassy's personnel are restricted in their movements in Libya.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper in Washington and Josh Lederman in Honolulu contributed to this report.