THE HAGUE — Libyan forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi have captured three crew members of a Dutch naval helicopter who were rescuing European citizens, last Sunday, the Dutch Defense Ministry said on Thursday, the first report of foreigners being by held in Libya's bloody and unfolding uprising.
Otte Beeksma, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said the pro-Qaddafi forces also captured two civilians being rescued — one Dutch, the other from an unspecified European country — who had since been released. Dutch officials decline to give personal details of the crew members while confidential negotiations for their release were underway.
The authorities had kept word of the capture a secret until a Dutch newspaper broke the story.
Mr. Beeksma, said the crew of a Lynx helicopter had landed in the coastal city of Sirte — a pro-Qaddafi stronghold — after flying from a navy ship, the HMS Tromp, anchored offshore. The helicopter was "surrounded by armed Libyan forces late on Sunday afternoon."