JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Lesotho's Prime Minister Tom Thabane on Saturday confirmed a military coup in his country, saying that he had fled to neighboring South Africa.
"It is a military coup because it is led by the military. And the military are outside the instructions of the commander in chief, who is myself," said the prime minister in an interview with South Africa's ENCA TV.
"I have been removed from control not by the people but by the armed forces, and that is illegal," Thabane said, adding that he will return to his country as soon as his life is safe.
An anonymous Lesotho official told Xinhua that Thabane "had gone to the South African Development Community (SADC)", seeking intervention from SADC.
Meanwhile, the military denied ousting him and said its soldiers had returned to barracks, with peace and calm resumed in Maseru starting from noon.
An army spokesman said the military "supports the democratically elected government of the day."
Radio stations, TV were taken off air and phone lines were cut, although later they were back working, a diplomat from the Embassy of China in Lesotho told Xinhua by telephone.
Some shops remained closed and daily necessities were out of stock in most shops, said the diplomat.
All the local Chinese were reported safe, the Chinese diplomat added. About 5,000 Chinese are living in Lesotho.
Early Saturday morning, military personnel were seen driving around the residences of the prime minister and other government officials, residents in the area said.
Heavily-armed soldiers also surrounded State House and occupied the main headquarters of the police force in Mabote, which is loyal to Thabane.
An exchange of gunfire was heard there and five people were said injured.
The gun-fight came after Thabane had removed the army commander, Lt.-Gen. Kennedy Tlali Kamoli, a source told Xinhua. However, the army spokesman said Kamoli was still in charge of the military.