Libyan state television Al-Jamahiriyah has broadcast footage of three Dutch soldiers (including one woman) who were captured by forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi while trying to help evacuate foreign citizens from the strife-torn country.
The footage shows the Dutch soldiers with their faces obscured, sitting in what looks like an office with Libyans and drinking soda.
The TV report also showed the Dutchmen’s Lynx helicopter, assault rifles, dollar notes, notebooks, pistols, mobile phones, bullets and ammunition, military-fatigue body armor, inflatable life jackets and a Sony digital camera.
An on-screen caption during the broadcast read (translated from Arabic): According to the [Saudi-backed] broadcaster al-Arabiya, this helicopter was sent to rescue people, but we can see something else here. The helicopter flew into Libyan airspace and landed in Sirte without any permission from the authorities and this is in violation of international law.
According to the Dutch Defense Ministry, the helicopter crew was captured on Sunday near the port city of Sirte (which is under the control of pro-government forces) while they sought to fly out two European nationals. The two evacuees were also captured, but later released by Libyan officials and left the country.
The Netherlands government is in negotiations with Libyan authorities to secure their release.
The Dutch defense ministry earlier said it has been in contact with the crewmembers and said they were doing well under the circumstances
The Minister of Defense Hans Hillen said in a statement: We sympathize with the uncertainty of the relatives of the crew. Everything is being done for the safe return of the helicopter crew.