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Police Begin Investigation into Lesotho Prime Minister’s Assassination Threat

A full scale investigation has begun into Wednesday's assassination attempt against Lesotho's Prime Minister following a shootout at his official residence by heavily armed gunmen. The attack was repelled by police. At least four of the assailants are dead, one suspect was arrested, and another is believed to be in neighboring South Africa. Some of the attackers are said to have escaped arrest. Maseru claims Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was unharmed after the attack, although he was at his residence when it came under fire. The government adds that the attack seems to have been politically motivated.

Buda Museme is the radio news editor of People's Choice FM in the capital, Maseru. He told VOA that details on the well-being of the prime minister remain sketchy.

"Lesotho's Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on Wednesday survived an attempt on his life after some unknown gunmen opened fire at his home in the capital, Maseru. Before that there was a report from the police that these unknown gunmen first attacked the military base at Makwanyani where they kidnapped at least six armed personnel and then forced them to drive their cars, also taking their weapons or guns and some hand grenades. And from there drove straight to the state palace where the prime minister stays," Museme said.

He said the government maintains that the assassination attempt on the life of the prime minster was over political issues.

"Earlier today, we had a short press briefing with the minister of communications also the government spokesman who indicated that all these attempts might be associated with politics," he said.

Museme said the police have announced the commencement of a full-scale investigation into Wednesday's attack

"They (government) have also indicated that they are going to conduct further investigations," Museme said.

He said although the government refused to speculate which politicians could be the masterminds of the assassination attempt it maintains that the attack could have political undertones.

"When talking to the government spokesperson, he tried to avoid pinpointing any opposition party or any political party who might be associated attack. But he also here and there in his speech showed his concern about the current politics in Lesotho and here and there some political parties which seem to against the current government," he said.

Museme said Maseru has vowed to bring the perpetrators of Wednesday's attack to justice.

"The government said the investigations are already underway and that they are going to bring all the people who might be associated with this attempt to book," Museme said.

He said the condition of the prime minister remains sketchy.

"At the moment, we haven't found anything in terms of his health condition because we were unable to go to the state house. But I do think as times go on we should be able to tell the state of his health," he said.

Museme said some of the attackers have been apprehended.

"According to the report I have, at least two were arrested while more than four were killed. And it has been found that all of them might not be South Africans or Basotho," Museme said.

He said those arrested were not Lesotho nationals.

"It was found out that one of them is a Mozambican," he said.

Security has reportedly been tightened after Wednesday's assassination attempt on the life of Prime Minister Mosisili.

Meanwhile, opposition political parties have sharply condemned the attack, describing it as barbaric and unwarranted. They add that it is unconscionable for any Basotho to die for the sake of political inclinations.

Neighboring South Africa's President Kgalema Motlanthe, who doubles as the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), criticized the attack, saying no cause can ever justify such a heinous act.

Prime Minister Mosisili has been the leader of the country for the last 12 years. He was re-elected in the 2007 general elections, which were judged by both local and international poll observers to be free and fair, although the opposition strongly objected.