Lesotho cops flee coup

2014-09-02 00:00

LESOTHO’S top police officers have all fled in fear of their lives after the weekend’s putsch in Maseru.

The national police commissioner, Commandant Khothatso T’soonana, his senior officers, as well as many lower ranking members evacuated their offices and took to the mountains when soldiers attacked the police college outside Maseru late on Sunday.

A police officer in Maseru said most officers in the capital had been evacuated and many had fled to South Africa.

He said soldiers had set free the awaiting-trial suspects in the Ha Mabote and Maseru central police stations — allegedly to sow further chaos.

“The soldiers confiscated all the uniforms and weapons in the police college in Maseru and they are looking everywhere for police officers.”

One soldier and one police officer had been shot and killed during gun fights between the police and the army, while several were wounded, said T’soonana.

All police officers were ordered not to wear their uniforms.

A group in the Lesotho army took control of the police head office on Saturday, shut down the local radio station and blocked cellphone signals.

Another police officer in Maseru claimed soldiers had tortured several police officers since Sunday night, demanding the police hand over dossiers that implicate army officers in the coup.

“The courts are closed and the soldiers are now targeting any member of the police who dares to go to work. We can no longer do our duty.”

Meanwhile, Free State farmers on the Lesotho border are on high alert for opportunistic stock thieves, but have been asked to remain neutral.

The military revealed the large amount arms and ammunition at the Makoanyane barracks that they seized from the police. The military say they were going to be used in an attempted military coup on Saturday morning. The situation is calm in the Maseru city centre.

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