Renegade Lesotho general 'seizes weapons'

A Lesotho general suspected of involvement in last week's attempted coup has seized army weapons in preparation for a possible stand-off, a top military commander told AFP on Friday.

Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, who has refused to step down as the commander of the Lesotho Defence Forces, seized a cache including anti-aircraft guns, mortars and small arms from state armouries.

"He has refused to vacate offices and depleted armouries," Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao said, adding the material was being used to prepare for both "defensive and offensive" operations.

"Intelligence reports indicate he slips in and out of the mountains," Mahao added.

Thesele Maseribane, a government minister and Basotho National Party leader, told AFP that Kamoli was "preparing for war tonight" and had mobilized armoured cars.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane asked Kamoli to relinquish his command a week ago.

Within hours of that order the military had attacked a host of police stations and Mahao -- Kamoli's successor -- had been the target of an attempted assassination. Thabane later fled to South Africa.

Intelligence sources say Kamoli has control of Lesotho's elite special forces unit of around 40 highly-trained troops, as well as the military's intelligence division.

Police said that during the attacks on their bases the military hunted for case files against Kamoli and other soldiers relating to corruption and a series of politically motivated bomb attacks.

The military denies trying to stage a coup and says it raided police offices to get weapons it believed would have been given to "political fanatics".