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Libya releases two U.S. basketball players held in Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan authorities have released two Americans detained by the army in the violence-hit eastern city of Benghazi, the basketball club they played for said on Friday.

The two had been detained at the campus of Benghazi university and brought to the army's headquarters, Libyan security officials said on Thursday, without giving any details.

They had been in Libya contracted to Al-Hilal basketball club.

"They were released last night," Salah al-Fetouri, president of the club, said.

Fetouri said the army, which runs checkpoints and patrols in the city, had detained them because they had questioned what they were doing at night on a campus normally closed for non-students.

"After their identity had been confirmed they were released," he said. One of the pair is of Cameroonian origin.

Few foreigners live these days in Benghazi, a city in the oil-rich east where assassinations and car bombs happen regularly.

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

Most countries have closed their consulates after the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed during an Islamist assault on the U.S. consulate in September 2012.

Separately, London on Friday confirmed the death of a British man who, along with a New Zealand woman, was found with gunshot wounds at Mellitah, 100 km (60 miles) west of Tripoli, outside a large oil and gas complex.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Matthias Williams)

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