Lesotho civil society demands probe into assassination of ex-army chief Mahao by state troops

Ex-military head was traveling with his two sons when soldiers pulled up in three vehicles and opened fire.

CIVIL society and opposition groups in Lesotho on Friday called for an investigation into the killing of the country’s former army chief Maaparankoe Mahao a day earlier by government forces.

The southern African kingdom’s defense ministry said Mahao was killed Thursday during a military operation to arrest suspected coup plotters.

A man who identified himself as Mahao’s brother told local radio that the ex-military head was traveling with his two sons when soldiers pulled up in three vehicles and opened fire. Mahao fell to the ground after being struck and the attackers threw his body into a van and drove off.

“We appeal to the international community to continue to ask for measures to cease the breach of rule of law, violation of human rights and demanding accountability and proper inquiry on killings and shootings perpetrated by organs of state security,” Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations Executive Director Seabata Motsamai told reporters on Friday in the capital, Maseru.

Mahao was promoted to commander of the army by former Prime Minister Tom Thabane in August, after Thabane dismissed Tlali Kamoli from the post and accused him of trying to topple the government.

Kamoli was reinstated by the new government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who took office in March.

Lesotho security forces this month broke up demonstrations organised by opposition parties whose members feel under threat, saying the kidnappings and violence against politicians have ramped up since the coup attempt.

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