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LIBYA: Captured Dutch marines, seized helicopter shown on state TV

March 4, 2011 |  4:12 am

_51519484_jex_975997_de20-1 Libyan state TV has aired footage of three detained Dutch marines who were captured along with their helicopter by forces loyal to leader Moammar Kadafi near the Kadafi-stronghold of Sirte on Sunday as they reportedly were carrying out a mission to evacuate two Europeans.

The Dutch Defense Ministry insists the crew was simpy carrying out a "consular evacuation" -- a claim that Libya seems to find dubious. 

On Friday, Libya's Al-Jamahiriyah TV broadcast a video report showing the helicopter crew of three, including one woman, sitting in a room.

Viewers were then shown dramatic nighttime footage of the helicopter and its interior, as well as guns,mobile phones, bullets and ammunition, military-fatigue body armour and a Sony digital camera, among other things.

The presenter painted a sinister scenario, saying the Dutch Navy Lynx helicopter was armed when it entered Libyan airspace and that it had entered Libya "without authorization" in clear "violation of international norms."

The report went on to lash out at pan-Arab news network Al-Arabiya, saying the TV station had alleged that the Dutch helicopter had entered Libya to assist "so-called refugees." The announcer hailed the Libyan armed forces for taking charge of the helicopter, which was "armed with machine guns, electronic rifles, live ammunition, satellite communication equipment ..."

At the end of the report, Libyan soldiers were shown celebrating by the seized chopper.

Talks are reportedly under way to free the trio.

--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: Libyan state TV aired a video report on Friday showing detained Dutch marines captured by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi. Credit: BBC website