UK in botched Libya mission
THE British Government is counting the cost of an SAS mission to Libya in which the troops were captured by rebels and a diplomat’s plea for their release was broadcast on state television. The eight-strong team – thought to have included an MI6 officer – had been sent to the country in a bid to foster links with opponents of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. But the plans appear to have gone awry early on when their helicopter sparked an alert by landing near Benghazi without informing rebel commanders. The group was reportedly detained after a search of their bags revealed ammunition, explosives, maps and fake passports. A telephone call from the UK ambassador to Libya Richard Northern to a rebel leader trying to clear up the ‘‘ misunderstanding’’ was then seemingly intercepted and broadcast on state television. The team was finally freed and is understood to have left Libya on Sunday night on board HMS Cumberland.