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Libyan officers defect from Gaddafi's forces as Zuma arrives in Tripoli for talks

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Libya for mediation talks as reports emerge eight senior officers have left Gaddafi’s army, with one accusing his troops of genocide.

South African President Jacob Zuma, centre, arriving in Tripoli, Libya, today.
South African President Jacob Zuma, centre, arriving in Tripoli, Libya, today.
Image: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

EIGHT SENIOR OFFICERS in the the Libyan army have defected, with one accusing the troops of being involved in genocide in the conflict with anti-Gaddafi rebel forces.

The eight, including five generals, appeared at a hastily-convened press conference in the Italian capital Rome today and appealed to their former fellow officers to join them and back the rebels fighting Gaddafi’s continuing rule.

Mahmoud Shammam of the Libyan Transitional National Council also appeared at the press event and said some 120 other officers have already fled to Tunisia, however his claims have not been verified.

The news comes as South African President Jacob Zuma arrives in Tripoli for mediation talks aimed at ending the conflict. The BBC reports that this is Zuma’s second visit since NATO began its airstrikes on the north African country.

The African Union’s ceasefire proposals have been rejected by rebel groups, however, because they do not call for Gaddafi’s resignation.

- Additional reporting from the AP

Read: Hundreds of women report being raped by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya >

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