JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The military in Lesotho has occupied police stations and surrounded some government buildings in the capital of the mountainous southern African country and are moving to other districts, a security guard at the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.
Gunfire that rang out early in the morning has since stopped, said Bernard Ntlhoaea, a guard at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru, Lesotho's capital. Some other residents were reporting continued gunfire over Twitter.
"The military has been moving around from 3 o'clock in the morning, occupying police stations in Maseru and moving around to other districts," said Ntlhoaea. He said the military was armed and he saw at least one armored personnel carrier on the streets.
Radio stations were not broadcasting, except for a Catholic station, which maintained normal programming, he said.
Political tensions have been high in the tiny kingdom that is completely surrounded by South Africa since June when there was a power struggle after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane suspended parliament to dodge a vote of no confidence.
The landlocked country's first coalition government was formed in 2012 after competitive elections that ousted the 14-year incumbent Pakalitha Mosisili, who peacefully stepped down from power. The coalition has since been fragile.
Lesotho has seen unrest in its past and has seen a number of military coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.
The constitutional government was restored in 1993, after seven years of military rule. Violent protests and a military mutiny in 1998 came after a contentious election prompted intervention by South African and military forces, under the authority of the South African Development Community. Political stability returned after constitutional reforms, and parliamentary elections were peacefully held in 2002.
Associated Press reporter Andrew Selsky in Johannesburg contributed to this report.