Libyan rebels hold Bri­tish SAS troops

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

A BRI­TISH spe­cial forces unit ( SAS) and a ju­nior diplo­mat were be­ing held by rebels in east­ern Libya fol­low­ing a bun­gled mis­sion to put the en­voy in touch with them, The Sun­day Times news­pa­per said.

Cit­ing sources, it said the SAS sol­diers, thought to be up to eight men, were cap­tured along with the diplo­mat they were es­cort­ing through the rebel-held east.

‘‘ We can nei­ther con­firm nor deny the re­port,’’ a For­eign Of­fice spokes -woman said.

The Min­istry of De­fence ( MoD) said: ‘‘ We nei­ther con­firm nor deny the story and we do not com­ment on the spe­cial forces.’’

The un­in­vited ap­pear­ance of the SAS along­side the diplo­mat ‘‘ an­gered Libyan op­po­si­tion fig­ures who or­dered the sol­diers to be locked up in a mil­i­tary base’’, the weekly said.

Op­po­nents of Libyan leader Muam­mar Gaddafi ‘‘ fear he could use any ev­i­dence of West­ern mil­i­tary in­ter­fer­ence to rally patriotic sup­port for his regime,’’ it said. The news­pa­per said that ac­cord­ing to Libyan sources, the SAS sol­diers were taken by rebels to Libya’s sec­ond city Benghazi, held by the op­po­si­tion, and hauled up be­fore a se­nior fig­ure.

The Sun­day Times said a Bri­tish source, who con­firmed the men had been de­tained, said the diplo­mat they were pro­tect­ing had wanted to make con­tact with the rebels.

It cited a source close to the op­po­si­tion lead­er­ship as say­ing rebel of­fi­cials were wor­ried that Libyan peo­ple might think from the es­cort party that ‘‘ for­eign troops have started to in­ter­fere by land­ing in Libya’’.

Bri­tish ser­vice per­son­nel have al­ready been in­volved in the res­cue of Bri­tish na­tion­als work­ing on oil in­stal­la­tions in re­mote desert camps. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron last week said that West­ern coun­tries should be step­ping up con­tact with the Libyan op­po­si­tion to gain a greater un­der­stand­ing of their in­ten­tions. For­eign Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Hague talked by phone with Gen­eral Ab­del Fatah Yu­nis, the for­mer Libyan in­te­rior min­is­ter who de­fected, about the sit­u­a­tion on the ground.

The Min­istry of De­fence said on Satur­day about 200 troops had been placed on standby to help with evac­u­a­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tions in Libya.

The troops from the Black Watch, 3rd Bat­tal­ion The Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, are ready for de­ploy­ment at 24 hours’ no­tice, a spokes­woman said.

DAN­GER: UK of­fi­cials silent over a re­ports a SAS unit and a ju­nior diplo­mat were be­ing held by rebels in east­ern Libya fol­low­ing a bun­gled mis­sion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.