U.S. military personnel released in Libya after brief detention
Four U.S. military personnel were released Sunday after Libyan government officials briefly detained the individuals, according to Agence France-Presse.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters right after midnight Sunday that "All four U.S. military personnel being held in Libyan government custody have been released. We are still trying to ascertain the facts of the incident."
The personnel had previously been detained earlier Saturday allegedly following "a confrontation at a checkpoint," but it is not yet clear why they were held accordingly. The New York Times reported that gunfire was exchanged at the checkpoint and that a vehicle was damaged as a result.
Psaki further told reporters that the four "were operating in an area near Sabratha, [approximately 65 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli], as part of security preparedness efforts when they were taken into custody."
According to AFP sources, the four were released only 2 hours after the U.S. State Department announced their detention. The Times reported that the four were moved to the interior ministry for their brief detention.
In related U.S.-Libya news, reports released this weekend show that the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were not affiliated with Al Qaeda. Local rebel forces who acted independently burned the embassy in Libya's second largest city last year.
Since mid-November, the State Department has been offering a $10 million reward to anyone who could "help track down the militants behind the [2012 Benghazi] attack."
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