Police, army exchange fire in Lesotho

2014-09-19 11:40

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Maseru - Police and the military exchanged gunfire in Lesotho's capital Maseru in the early hours of Friday, the latest violence to rock Africa's tiny mountain kingdom.

Maseru Police District Commissioner Mofokeng Kolo told AFP that the shooting occurred at 03:00 am local time when soldiers suspiciously drove past the home of a police force commander, Khothatso Tsooana.

"If they were planning something, I'm not sure... Soldiers came close, and the police on guard followed them" for about 2km.

An eNCA report said police on guard at the house saw two green vehicles with military registration plates approaching and, thereafter, a fierce gunfire ensued.

Watch the video below.

The shootout lasted for about three minutes before the military vehicle fled, the report said.

No injuries were reported.

This comes as SADC's facilitator, South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who was in Lesotho recently, said he was encouraged by the deep sense of patriotism among Lesotho's political roleplayers and their determination to help find a lasting solution to their challenges.

Tom Thabane. File: AFP

On 30 August, Prime Minister Tom Thabane fled Lesotho and crossed the border into South Africa as his country's military took over the country in what was alleged to be an attempted coup.

Last week Thabane said the security situation in the mountain kingdom remained volatile and that its parliament could not reconvene under the current environment.

'Renegade' Lesotho defence force commander

Police are seen as loyal to Prime Minister Tom Thabane while sections of the military are allied to his political foes.

The August violence was blamed on "renegade" Lesotho Defence Force commander Tlali Kamoli, who has refused to step down and has been blamed for a series of attacks on police and political rivals.

Kamoli - who is reportedly surrounded by a group of armed loyalists - faces accusations of mutiny and treason, but remains free.

Tensions heightened on Thursday with the funeral of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, the police officer killed on 30 August, who was reportedly guarding the police armoury that army soldiers then raided.

At least  2 000 police attended the emotional memorial service.

Southern Africa states have pressed Lesotho's leaders to solve the crisis, but they remain deadlocked with Thabane saying he cannot meet demands to reopen parliament until Kamoli is brought under control.

Regional bloc SADC has called for early elections to be called and send South African police to the country to protect Thabane and his allies.

There were various reactions on Twitter on Friday:

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  tom thabane  |  lesotho  |  southern africa

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