Four US military personnel held and released in Libya

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Four members of the US military detained in Libya were released after being taken into custody by the government, US officials said on Friday.

"All four (have been) released," a US defence official said.

Earlier, the US State Department confirmed that the four were being held and US authorities were in touch with the Libyan government over the issue.

Circumstances under which the four were detained remained unclear.

But more than two years after the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's government, the country remains in turmoil with widespread insecurity.

The New York Times reported that the service members were taken into custody near Roman ruins at Sabratha, a tourist area about an hour's drive from the capital, Tripoli.

The incident takes on greater significance because of the militant attack in Benghazi on Sept 11, 2012, in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The attacks touched off a political storm in Washington, with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama's administration of telling shifting stories about who was behind the attacks.

In October, US forces seized Nazih al-Ragye, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, in Tripoli in connection with the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.