Details of a UK operation to rebel-held Benghazi in Libya in which eight men – six reportedly SAS – were arrested, have been disclosed to the BBC.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and “they were in touch with them”.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne said witnesses saw six men in black overalls land in a helicopter near the city early on Friday and they were met by two others.
They were later arrested when it was discovered they were carrying weapons.
According to an earlier report in the Sunday Times the unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime.
In a statement, the MoD said: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.”
Our correspondent, who is in Benghazi, said the men went to the compound of an agricultural company where they were challenged by Libyan guards and asked if they had weapons.
“Witnesses said that when the men’s bags were checked they were found to contain arms, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports from at least four different nationalities.
“The witnesses said at that point all eight men were arrested and taken to an army base in Benghazi where they are being held by the opposition forces who control this area.”
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses and rebels say four towns which Libyan forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi claim to have retaken remain under rebel control.
BBC staff report that Tobruk and Ras Lanuf remain in rebel hands.
Anti-Gaddafi forces still control Misrata and Zawiya, residents and rebels said. But Misrata was reported to be under renewed attack on Sunday.
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