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Published: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 6:10:01 AM
Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 6:10:01 AM

Briton, New Zealander killed in western Libya - security source

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A Briton and a New Zealander, both with gunshot wounds, were found dead in western Libya on Thursday, while two Americans were arrested in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libyan security sources said.

The security situation has deteriorated in recent months in the North African country where the government is struggling to rein in militias and tribesmen who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and kept their guns.

"Their bodies were found near the coastal area of Mellitah," one source said, referring to a large oil and gas complex co-owned by Italy's ENI and a residential area near the town of Zuwarah and 100 km (60 miles) west of Tripoli.

Another source said the New Zealander was a woman and the Briton a man. Both were found outside the oil complex, he said.

No further details were immediately available.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said, "We are aware of reports that the bodies of two foreign nationals have been found in Libya and we are urgently seeking further information from the authorities."

A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the ministry was aware of reports that a New Zealander may have been killed in Libya. "We are working with the relevant authorities to confirm this," he said.

In a separate incident, two Americans were being held by the Libyan army at its headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi, several security and army sources told Reuters.

Both were basketball players and were arrested on the campus of Benghazi University, one security source said.

"They were arrested by university guards and then brought by special forces to the army barracks," an army source said.

A State Department official said the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli was aware of the reports of the arrests and was working to obtain additional information but could not make any further comment because of privacy considerations.

Last Friday, four American military personnel were detained by the Libyan government and released after several hours in custody, U.S. and Libyan officials said.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Sahli, Ulf Laessing, Aziz Yacoubi and Missy Ryan; Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith in London and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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