Army blames ‘police bandits’ for Khubetsoana gun battle


…says a police inspector and superintendent were injured in the attack  

Billy Ntaote

THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) yesterday said the gunfire which rocked Khubetsoana on Tuesday evening was directed at the home of one of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s bodyguards.

The LDF also said the attack was by members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), five of whom had allegedly surrendered to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) police.

Security agents from different SADC countries are in Lesotho to help restore stability to the kingdom following weeks of political upheaval sparked by a bitter fallout between the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP), leaders who formed a coalition government in June 2012.

In a statement, LDF spokesperson, Major Ntele Ntoi said: “The Lesotho Defence Force Command informs the Basotho nation at large about the unfortunate attack which occurred in Khubetsoana, Maseru, on the night of 30 September, 2014.

“The attack was directed at the family of the bodyguard of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“Preliminary reports suggest that the bodyguard received a tip-off from members of his family about a strange vehicle with no registration numbers that was parked adjacent to his house and armed men surrounding the house. As a result, he was escorted home by his colleague. Upon arriving near his home, they came under a hail of bullets from a group of men who had already positioned themselves near the house.

“It is against this background that he and his colleague fired back whilst at the same time, called for assistance from military bases. It was at this time that the attackers on board four vehicles ambushed a group of soldiers who had come to reinforce them, thereby firing from different directions.

“The soldiers returned fire and suppressed this group of bandits who, in turn took to their heels, leaving behind the following equipment and items: Four vehicles of the following models; White Toyota 4 x 4 Twin Cab and registration number Y 1064 found next to the home of the soldier; White Toyota 4 x 4 Single Cab bearing registration number Y 1797; Toyota Quantum bearing Lesotho Police insignia and colours with registration number Y 4350; and White Chevrolet Sedan bearing registration number CL 560.”

According to Major Ntoi, an assortment of weapons was also recovered from the scene of crime.

“The following equipment was also recovered: AK47 Automatic Assault Rifle found near the Chevrolet; M16 automatic assault rifle also found near the Chevrolet; Pistol; magazines and assortment of ammunition; attackers’ cell-phones and car keys; black berets worn by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Special Operations Unit (SOU); a substantial number of spent cartridges.”

Major Ntoi also said two police officers of the ranks of Superintendent and Inspector from the SOU were wounded and rushed to hospital, after the attack.

“Meanwhile, five policemen who allegedly took part in the attack and took refuge in a nearby house surrendered to the SADC police. In the same house, AK47 automatic assault rifles and ammunition were recovered.

“In this incident, no injuries were sustained on the part of LDF members. However, there was damage to two LDF vehicles and apart from that, houses and vehicles in the neighbourhood were also damaged,” Major Ntoi said, urging the nation not to be “misled” by claims that the attack was targeted at Acting Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka.

“The LDF command urges the nation to remain calm and not allow themselves to be misled by those who allege that the attack was directed towards the Acting Government Secretary. The LDF Command also warns all motorists not to remove their registration numbers wherever they travel to. It has come to the attention of the LDF Command that these attacks are solely meant to derail peace processes led by SADC to bring about a durable solution to the ongoing political conflict in Lesotho.

“The LDF Command firmly assures the Basotho nation and the international community that the LDF categorically supports these peace processes and will endeavour to provide the necessary security. A team of SADC police has since started their investigations on this matter.” Also See Pictures on Page 19.


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