Lesotho's army commander was shot dead by rival officers at a military barracks on Tuesday, an official told AFP, in an apparent assassination set to revive instability in the mountainous African kingdom.
"The commander (Khoantle Motsomotso) has been declared dead," a military official who declined to be named told AFP, adding that two senior officers behind the attack had also been killed in the shoot-out.
The military official said the two senior officers were denied access to Motsomotso's office by army guards.
"They attempted to forcefully enter, there was a shoot-out between the two, their companion who has since fled, and the commander's bodyguards," he said.
A new coalition government took office in Lesotho in June under Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who vowed to bring peace to the country that has been rocked by a series of political upheavals.
Thabane, 78, previously served as premier after the 2012 elections but was forced to flee to South Africa following an attempted military coup two years later.
In August 2014, soldiers led by sacked army chief General Tlali Kamoli seized control of police headquarters after Thabane had suspended Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote.
Thabane's All Basotho Convention (ABC) party won snap elections on June 3 but failed to get an outright majority, leading it to negotiate joint rule with three other parties.
According to the Lesotho Daily News, opposition leaders had fled the country a few days ago after saying they feared for their lives.