File photo taken on Aug. 16, 2014 shows Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attending the 34th Southern African Development Community Heads of State and Government Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The Lesotho military surrounded the police headquarters in the capital of Maseru on Saturday amid speculations of a coup. But the government said it is still in power. (Xinhua/Wan Da)
JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Lesotho military surrounded the police headquarters in the capital of Maseru on Saturday amid speculations of a coup. But the government said it is still in power.
The armed forces have besieged the police headquarters, Thesele Maseribane, the sports minister and leader of the Basotho National Party, told reporters.
A police officer inside the headquarters also confirmed that they were barricaded, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported.
Maseribane said it was a possible coup attempt in the mountainous kingdom, an enclave surrounded by South Africa. The military also jammed radio stations, he added.
But Maseribane said the government is still in power.
"The prime minister (Tom Thabane) and myself, (we are) still the coalition government. The prime minister is still in power," he said, describing Thabane's conditions as "fine".
Captain Ntlele Ntoi, a Lesotho military spokesperson, said they took the action after receiving intelligence that police officers intended to pass arms and ammunitions to the "Under the Tree" (UTTA), a political group associated with the prime minister.
Ntoi said the military is empowered to prevent terrorism, internal disorder and threats to essential services. It has surrounded the police headquarters and a police station in Mabote.
Early Saturday morning, military personnel were seen driving around the residences of the prime minister and other government officials, residents in the area said.
An exchange of gunfire was heard in Mabote, where the military's special operation unit is based, according to local residents.
Lesotho has been governed by a shaky coalition for two years while the military and police are loyal to different poltical parties.