2 soldiers shot dead

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MASERU — Two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers were shot dead on Tuesday morning while on duty at Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng’s residence in Maseru West.

LDF spokesman Captain Ntlele Ntoi said the shooting incident happened in the guardroom at the minister’s residence.

Ramatlapeng and her domestic workers were not at home during the shooting incident.

“At the moment, the cause of this unfortunate incident is not yet known,” Ntoi said in a statement adding that the army and the police had since launched a joint investigation to establish what happened.

The names of the soldiers were not released as their next of kin were still to be informed.

Ramatlapeng declined to comment yesterday saying she was on her way to Ghana on official business.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said preliminary investigations had revealed that the dead soldiers had multiple gunshot wounds on their bodies and heads.

“At present the bodies of the deceased are at the mortuary where a thorough examination is being carried out,” Masupha said.

Asked if the multiple gunshot wounds did not suggest that they had been attacked, Masupha refused to comment.

He said he did not wish to form an opinion as to what could have happened.

“We have to wait for the investigators to complete their probe and hand their report to the relevant authorities,” he added.

Ntoi appealed to Basotho “to stay calm as this incident does not mean that there is a chaotic situation either in the defence force or in the country”.

This is not the first time that soldiers guarding ministers’ houses have been attacked.

In June 2007 soldiers guarding the home of Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing were attacked and disarmed by armed gunmen.

The minister, his wife, and their two young children aged below 10 escaped death by a whisker after the attackers fired towards their house.

Armed gunmen also attacked and disarmed guards manning the home of former health minister, Motloheloa Phooko, who is now a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office on the same night.

Former tourism minister Lebohang Ntšinyi had her guards disarmed during the same disturbances.

In January 2006, Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki was shot and injured on the arm as he entered his home from an LCD annual conference.

In April 2009, armed gunmen stormed Makoanyane military base and captured some weapons before attacking Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s State House residence in Maseru West.

Several Basotho men were implicated in the attacks against the government ministers.

Among these were Thabiso Mahase, the husband of High Court judge ’Maseforo Mahase, Mokherane Tsatsanyane, son of prominent politician and music composer, Moeketsi Tsatsanyane and others.

The suspects fled into exile in South Africa.

Former army officer, Makotoko Lerotholi, who was suspected to have been the mastermind behind the attacks, died in October 2009.

Businessman Jessie Ramakatane who is suspected of financing the failed coup and attempted assassination of Mosisili is still in South Africa.

Ntoi said the army will wait for the completion of investigations to form an opinion on the death of the soldiers.

“There are no facts as yet to associate the deaths of the two soldiers with the insurgents’ attacks,” he said.

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