Maseru – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has described the killing of Lesotho's military chief Lieutenant General Khoantle Motsomotso, as an "inexcusable barbaric and heinous act".
In a statement on Wednesday, the regional bloc said that it had "learnt with deep shock, sadness and dismay" about the assassination of Motsomotso.
Motsomotso was shot dead by rival officers at a military barracks on Tuesday, in an apparent assassination set to revive instability in the mountainous African kingdom.
"This development is a serious blight and setback to the ongoing efforts to restore peace, security and stability to the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is an unfortunate occurrence which threatens the prevailing peace and security of the SADC region as a whole," read the statement.
SADC said it was set to send a ministerial fact-finding mission to Lesotho to assess the situation.
"In order to avert the possibility of further deterioration of security in the Kingdom of Lesotho, the SADC is immediately deploying a Ministerial fact finding Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho from 7 to 10 September 2017. The Mission will comprise Organ Troika Ministers plus SADC Chair accompanied by Defence and Security experts," said the statement.
The motivation behind the shooting still remained unclear.
President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said the killing of the Motsomotso was "senseless and regrettable" killing of Motsomotso, especially "because his killing happens two years after the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force Commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015, thus creating a dangerous pattern in the Kingdom of Lesotho".
Lesotho has been through bouts of political turbulence since the attempted coup in 2014 and its last three elections - most recently in June - have failed to produce winners with clear majorities.