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      Qaddafi's Interior Minister Defects

      Libyan Interior Minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah arrived with 9 family members in Cairo in what appears to be a defection.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 8/15/2011, 8:38 PM

       

      Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi's interior minister has flown to the Cairo with nine family members in the latest apparent defection from Qaddafi's government.
       
      Egyptian officials said Libyan Interior Minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah and his relatives arrived in Egypt early Monday on a private jet from the Tunisian resort island of Djerba. 
       
      The officials said Abdullah entered Egypt on a tourist visa and was not met by Qaddafi officials from the Libyan embassy in Cairo.
       
      Reports quote sources in Djerba as saying Qaddafi's aides held talks with Libyan rebels under tight security at a local hotel on Sunday. 
       
      In an audio message broadcast on Libyan television early Monday, Qaddafi urged people to fight to "to liberate Libya" from rebel "traitors," as he called them.
       
      Rebels have been pushing closer to his power base in the capital Tripoli. On Monday they appeared to have seized control of parts of the strategic city of Zawiya despite fierce resistance from Qaddafi forces.
       
      Zawiya is near a major highway and is just 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. Rebel control of the city would cut off Tripoli from its supply lines. 
       
      Zawiya has changed hands several times. It was one of the first cities to rebel against Qaddafi, shortly after the anti-government uprising began in February.