Three Dutch marines have been detained in Libya after they were captured by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi while trying to rescue two Europeans, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
The men were captured on Sunday by armed men after they had gone ashore at Sirte with a helicopter from a Dutch naval ship stationed off the coast of Libya to help with evacuations from the North African country, ministry spokesman Otte Beeksma said.
Dutch authorities are in "intensive diplomatic negotiations" with Gaddafi's government to secure the release of the marines, the ministry spokesman said.
The two Europeans the marines were trying to rescue, including one Dutch national, were handed over to the Dutch embassy in Tripoli on Wednesday and have now left the country.
Beeksma said the Dutch troops had not sought permission to enter Libyan air space, but added the citizens were rescued out of concern for a worsening security situation in Sirte, located 450 kilometres east of Tripoli. The identities of the marines were not revealed.