On Friday night, four U.S. military personnel were investigating potential routes for evacuation in Libya when they were taken into custody. They were then detained at a checkpoint by the government of Libya.
However, last Friday night the Libyan government freed the four. The four had been in an area close to Sabathra a city on the northwestern coast of Libya. The four formed part of a security preparedness team when Libyan authorities took them into custody. A spokesperson for the State Department said that Sabathra is 40 miles to the west of the capital of Tripoli and a popular destination for tourists with its ancient ruins.
None of the four was injured, but the four were taken, after they were released, back to the U.S. Embassy, said an official from the Defense Department. That official had not be authorized to speak about the incident and requested his name remain anonymous.
The four had been supporting security forces from the U.S. Marines that were protecting the U.S. Embassy. The odds are they were members of Special Forces, which were deployed inside Libya.
At the checkpoint where they were detained, an apparent altercation took place, but reports that there had been gunfire were not confirmed. After the Americans were detained, they were taken to the Interior Ministry and held for a period of time.
The American Embassy in the capital of Tripoli has a military detail. The personnel at the embassy have restricted movements inside Libya.
Unrest has marked Libya since the 2011 ouster of Moammar Gadhafi the longtime dictator.
Armed groups who had battled against the army loyal to Gadhafi turned themselves over to the militias that were able to exploit the weak central government of Tripoli and were able to operate on an independent basis from both the military and the police.
In Benghazi, Libya, terrorists attacked a diplomatic mission of the U.S. in September of 2011. The incident killed Chris Stevens the U.S. Ambassador and three other U.S. citizens.
When the four were detained, President Obama was on vacation in Hawaii but remained updated by the White House Staff and the National Security Council.