Libya releases four U.S. military personnel

The four Americans held by the Libyan government were part of a U.S. embassy security team

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Four U.S. military personnel detained in Libya have been released, a U.S. defense official said on Saturday.

The military employees were investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya near Sabratha when they were taken into custody at a checkpoint.

An altercation allegedly took place at the checkpoint, the Defense Department official said. No one was injured.

The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces meant to aid in the protection of the American Embassy, the official said.

After their detainment, they were transferred to the Ministry of Interior and held for a few hours.

"We value our relationship with the new Libya," State Department spokewoman Jen Psaki said. "We have a strategic partnership based on shared interests and our strong support for Libya's historic democratic transition."

Americans in Libya have been targeted several times since 2011 when Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown by rebel groups backed by U.S. and NATO airpower.

In September 2012 four people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by Islamist gunmen with alleged Al-Qaeda ties.

Earlier this month an American teacher was shot and killed near his home in Benghazi in an attack blamed on Islamist extremists.

More than two years after the collapse of Qaddafi’s government, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is struggling with widespread insecurity, especially with rebel factions and militias.

(With AP)

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