Lesotho’s Ministry of Defense principal secretary, Tanki Mothae, has confirmed that the number of soldiers’ dead following a shoot-out at about 10am in Ratjomose Army Barracks, has increased to three from two.
He cannot confirm if the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lt General Khoantle Motsomotso, is among the dead, saying families of the deceased have not yet been informed and investigations were still ongoing by the army command to identify the conspirators.
It is reported that some high-ranking officers who included Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Lt Colonel Bulane Sechele, some of the main suspects in the murder of the late Lt General Maaparankoe Mahao and attempted coup of August 30 2014, forced their way into the office of the current army commander Lt General Motsomotso.
The commander’ body guards later heard the gun shots and ran into the office. Eye witnesses only heard further gun shots and two officers died on the spot while one was rushed to hospital where he died later.
No one knows what transpired between the LDF’s most high-ranking officers that could have let to the killings. Our sources however confirm there was no scheduled meeting that they knew off on today and at the hours of shooting.
During the day, there was nothing showing a sign of any trouble at Ratjomose Barracks except a few lightly armed soldiers manning the gates and some soldiers and civilians were still going in and out with ease.
Lt General Motsomotso has succeeded the early-retired Lt General Tlali Kamoli whose dismissal from the army was recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry into the death of Lt General Maaparankoe Mahao on the basis that he was the polarizing figure and not worthy of commanding a stable and disciplined national army.
During his tenure, Lt General Kamoli refused to hand over eight army officers who were suspected of bombing the homes of Prime Minister Thabane’s wife home and that of the then commissioner of police, Khothatso Tsooana. Among those officers were also Col Hashatsi and Lt Colonel Sechele.
The government has promised to issue a statement later today on the recent incident.