Lesotho police, military in shoot-out

2014-09-19 12:02

Maseru – Police and military exchanged gunfire in Lesotho’s capital Maseru, the latest spasm of violence to rock Africa’s tiny mountain kingdom.

Maseru Police District Commissioner Mofokeng Kolo said today that the shooting occurred at 3am 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 two kilometres.

“I don’t know yet who fired first,” he said, adding that there were no injuries as a result of the shoot-out.

On August 30 the tiny nation was rocked by a coup attempt that saw the prime minister flee to South Africa and the military attack several police stations, killing one officer and forcibly disarming police.

Police are seen as loyal to Prime Minister Tom Thabane but 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 yesterday with the funeral of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, the police officer killed on August 30, who was reportedly guarding the police armoury that army soldiers then raided.

About 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.

The Southern African Development Community has called for early elections to be called and sent South African police to the country to protect Thabane and his allies.

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