Four American military service members were detained by Libyan authorities Friday and held for hours before being released by the country’s Interior Ministry, according to U.S. officials.
The four service members assigned to the American Embassy in Tripoli were believed to have been reviewing potential evacuation routes for diplomatic personnel when they were detained after running into a problem at a checkpoint near the main road from the capital city to the Tunisian border, the New York Times reports. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the four were working on “security preparedness efforts.” Many checkpoints in the area are controlled by local militias.
Personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli have operated with extreme caution since the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American Mission in Benghazi. Two years after the toppling of long-time Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, security in the country, even in and around the capital, remains fragile.