Lesotho army, cops in fresh shootout

2014-10-01 17:24
Soldiers sit on a military vehicle as it leaves the army barracks in Maseru following an apparent coup. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

Soldiers sit on a military vehicle as it leaves the army barracks in Maseru following an apparent coup. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

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Maseru - Two policemen in Lesotho were wounded on Tuesday night during a shoot-out between the force and the military, police said, in the latest fall-out from the attempted coup a month ago.

Lesotho Mounted Police Service spokesperson Lebona Mohloboli confirmed to AFP that "two police officers [were] shot and injured."

The gunfire exchange took place on the outskirts of Maseru and outside two neighbouring houses of a senior government official and a military officer who is reportedly wanted in connection with the attempted coup.

Details were still sketchy on Wednesday.

"We're still trying to figure out exactly what happened," Tumisang Mosotho, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tom Thabane told AFP.

The shooting is just one of the latest signs of instability plaguing the tiny kingdom following the attempt by a renegade army commander to remove the prime minister.

Around two streets away from the scene of the shooting, an AFP correspondent saw two automatic weapons lying on the ground besides a civilian vehicle that had its windows shattered.

Residents in the neighbourhood described the exchange of gunfire as "terrifying".

"It went on for an hour, with too many gunshots to count. First pistols, then automatic weapons that went rat-a-tat-tat-tat," said one neighbour who cowered with his wife in their home.

Renegades

Lesotho military and police were scouring the crime scene on Wednesday, while police "observers" from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) took photos and recreated the scene.

Dozens of foreign police officers from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are in the country as part of the SADC peace efforts.

Lesotho, was rocked by an attempted coup on 30 August that has left relations between police and armed forces on a knife-edge.

The attempted seizure of power was blamed on "renegade" Lesotho Defence Force commander Tlali Kamoli, who has refused to step down from the military and been blamed for a series of attacks on police and political rivals.

The shooting was also a stark reminder to South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is currently in Maseru to mediate a political resolution of the crisis, on behalf of the SADC.

Read more on:    sadc  |  lesotho  |  southern africa

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