Police abandon posts in Lesotho, fear for lives

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Police abandon posts in Lesotho, fear for lives
Soldiers stand on September 2, 2014 in a village near Maseru. Gunfire and power cuts overnight rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled prime minister appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on September 2, 2014 shows a border crossing near Maseru. Gunfire and power cuts overnight rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled prime minister appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken September 2, 2014 shows a deserted police station in Maseru. Gunfire and power cuts overnight rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled prime minister appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men enjoy the early morning sun in a village near Maseru on September 2, 2014. Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru overnight, as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men enjoy the early morning sun in a village near Maseru on September 2, 2014. Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru overnight, as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman sweeps in front of her house in a village near Maseru on September 2, 2014. Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru overnight, as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A soldiers stands near weapons displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shepherd are pictured in a village near Maseru on September 01, 2014. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mamphanya Mahoa, the wife of General Maaparankoe Mahao, who suffered an attempt of assassination answers journalists questions, on August 31, 2014. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks on August 31, 2014 in a market in Maseru. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers atop a military vehicle leave the Army Barracks on August 30, 2014 in Maseru. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled in fear of his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government.AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo shows the Maseru police headquarters after military men disarmed police and occupied the premises on August 30, 2014 in downtown Maseru. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled in fear of his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government.AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk on August 31, 2014 in a market in Maseru. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man sits on a hill overlooking Maseru, on August 31, 2014. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men collect garbage at Maseru's market, on August 31, 2014. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks behind his cows in a village near Maseru on September 01, 2014. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Assault rifles are displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Weapons are displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Explosives are displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Rifles and explosives are displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Assault rifles are displayed on September 1, 2014 at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru, during a press conference to present 130 firearms and a number of explosives confiscated from the police after military raided police installations. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers walks inside the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru on September 1, 2014. Lesotho's exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane is on his way home after claiming the military had tried to oust him, his aide said on September 1, following regional mediation talks in neighbouring South Africa. Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers ride a truck on September 2, 2014 through a village near Maseru. Gunfire and power cuts overnight rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled prime minister appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Women collect water in a village in a village near Maseru on September 2, 2014. Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru overnight, as the expected return to the mountain nation of the exiled Prime Minister Tom Thabane appeared uncertain following an apparent coup. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


BY CARLEY PETESCH and NQOBILE NTSHANGASE

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) -- Police in Lesotho have been told to abandon their posts and not wear uniforms to avoid being targeted in attacks in the kingdom's continuing power vacuum, an official said Tuesday.

At least one policeman was killed when the military disarmed police stations on Saturday. Radios were also jammed in what the prime minister said was a clear coup attempt in the country of about 2 million people. The military said they merely acted on information that police would be arming demonstrators in a political protest.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to South Africa, where he has been meeting with regional leaders. It is not yet clear when he will return to Lesotho, but the streets are unprotected by police until a resolution is found.

"Police fear for their lives because we have intelligence that there will be an attack while we are in stations on duty," said Assistant Police Commissioner Lehloka Maphatsoe. Police stations will not offer services to the population because of the likelihood of attacks on officers, said Maphatsoe.

"At the moment, really, there's nobody protecting the people," he said. The deputy commissioner apologized to the population saying the police cannot do anything because they "cannot risk the lives of the police officers."

There was an alleged attack by military on a police training camp late Monday, Maphatsoe said, though he was still trying to confirm the details.

Political tensions have been high since June when the prime minister suspended parliament to dodge a vote of no confidence.

The Southern African Development Community, the region's 15-nation organization, said Monday it will send an envoy and an observer team to Lesotho to help restore stability and security in the tiny mountainous country encircled by South Africa.

After the talks Monday, led by South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Lesotho's leaders agreed to a roadmap with a "clear timeline" on working toward removing the parliamentary suspension. They also agreed to release a joint statement "appealing for calm and exercise restraint with a view to rapidly bring law and order back in the kingdom," according to a statement issued by the regional body.

The 15-member community has intervened before in Lesotho, which has seen a number of military coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

---

Petesch contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

Read Full Story

People are Reading

The Latest from our Partners
1 - 3 of 15