WASHINGTON -- Four American military personnel were detained in
Libya but later released, U.S. officials said Friday night.
The State Department said earlier Friday evening that the four were being held by the Libyan government.
"We can confirm that four U.S.
military personnel are currently being held in Libyan government custody,"
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
She did not give any further information
about the circumstances of the detention.
"We are seeking to further ascertain
the facts and ensure their release. We are in touch with Libyan officials on
this issue," Psaki said.
Late Friday, U.S. officials said the four had been released.
"All four (have been) released," a U.S. defense official told Reuters.
The New York Times reported
that the service members were taken into custody near Roman ruins at
Sabratha, a tourist area about an hour's drive from the capital,
Tripoli. They were investigating potential evacuation routes for
diplomats, the report said.
The incident takes on greater significance because of the militant
attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi on Sept. 11,
2012, in which U.S.Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans
The attack touched off a political storm in
Washington,with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama's
administration of telling shifting stories about who was behind the
In October, U.S. forces seized Nazih al-Ragye, also
known as Abu Anas al-Liby, in Tripoli in connection with the bombings of
U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in1998.