Three Dutch marines were captured by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi during a rescue attempt of two European workers and are being held by Libyan authorities for five days, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The three were surrounded by armed men on Sunday after landing near Sirte in a Lynx helicopter from the navy ship HMS Tromp, which was anchored off the Libyan coast to help evacuations from the conflict-torn country, spokesman Otte Beeksma told The Associated Press.
Dutch officials are in "intensive negotiations" with Gadhafi's government to secure the marines' release, he said.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said news of the men's capture was kept quiet to assist talks on their release. Dutch daily De Telegraaf first reported their capture in its Thursday edition.
"These are situations that benefit from total secrecy because then you can carry out discussions in peace to ensure these people get home safely," he told national broadcaster NOS.
"It is terrible for the crew of the Lynx helicopter," Rutte said. "Everything is being done to make sure the crew gets home."If I am reading this correctly, were these three helo aircrew, or were they taken after they disembarked their helo? Did they have mechanical problems? Strange, I didn't think that the Korps Mariniers had their own helos - I thought they were all in the Koninklijke Marine.
MARSOF perhaps? We'll find out later perhaps - but it is interesting. Would three US Marines allow themselves to be taken prisoner? ROE? Lots of questions ... lots of ugly.
UPDATE: Because in that part of the world Americans are not seen as Dutch and the other way around --- and our traditions perhaps --- when a US helo crew goes down and are surrounded by hostile forces, I think this is the more likely outcome.
BTW Navy helo types, bring enough ammo or just "2 in the pouch, one in the M9"?