A Dutch attempt to evacuate workers from Libya has failed, and three members of a helicopter crew are being held by forces loyal to Gadhafi. Meanwhile, warships from around the world are gathering in the Mediterranean. The International Criminal Court says it will investigate Gadhafi for crimes against humanity, but US defense officials have criticized calls for military intervention.
Three Dutch marines were surrounded by armed men loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and captured while trying to rescue European workers by helicopter near the Libyan coastal town of Sirte, a Netherlands Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
"We have also been in contract with the crewmen involved," spokesman Otte Beeksma told the Associated Press. "They are doing well under the circumstances and we hope they will be released as quickly as possible." Asked whether the Dutch government considered the marines hostages, Beeksma said: "They are being held by Libyan authorities."
A Lynx helicopter from the Tromp, a frigate cruising off the Libyan coast, landed near Sirte on Sunday to help evacuate the civilians, Beeksma said. The news was kept quiet until De Telegraaf, a Dutch paper, reported it Thursday. "These are situations that benefit from total secrecy because then you can carry out discussions in peace to ensure these people get home safely," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a Dutch broadcaster.
Two civilians -- one Dutch, another from an unspecificed European country -- that were also seized by Libyan authorities have since been released and allowed to leave the country, according to CBS News. But the marines have been held all week.
"It is terrible for the crew of the Lynx helicopter," Prime Minister Rutte said. "Everything is being done to make sure the crew gets home."
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