Southern Africa’s regional body (Sadc) has condemned Tuesday’s killing of the head of Lesotho’s army, calling it an “inexcusable barbaric and heinous act”.
Lt Gen Khoantle Motsomotso, and two officers guarding him, were shot dead at a military barracks in in the capital, Maseru.
Sadc said the killing was a set-back to efforts to restore peace, security and stability to the kingdom.
Lesotho has a history of instability marked by coups or attempted coups.
Sadc said it would send a mission to the country on Thursday to help “avert the possibility of further deterioration of security”.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma warned in a statement that the army’s chief killing was setting a “dangerous pattern”, as it comes two years after another army commander was killed.
The fate of Gen Motsomotso’s killers is not clear.
Media reports say they attempted to flee the army compound but were gunned down.
Other reports say that the attackers were rivals of the army chief and that an accomplice may have escaped.
The authorities have not reported that they have made any arrests.
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane said the situation was now under control and has urged people to remain calm.
He called the killing of the army chief “unfortunate and untimely” and said that an investigation was under way to find out what happened and why.
There have been three elections in Lesotho in the past three years, the most recent being in June, with none producing a clear majority.
Prime Minister Thabane, leader of the All Basotho Convention, now heads a coalition government.
In 2014 Mr Thabane fled to South Africa, which totally surround Lesotho, fearing that he would be targeted in an assassination attempt. BBC News