Soldiers from South Africa and Botswana moved Thursday to quell an outbreak of looting after suppressing mutinous Lesotho troops in this mountain kingdom.
The South African and Botswanan troops - whose intervention Tuesday to thwart a mutiny by Lesotho troops sparked a looting and arson spree - played a cat-and-mouse game with the looters.When an armored personnel carrier rumbled up to a hardware store shortly after dawn, dozens of looters tumbled out of the shop, dropping tools and other goods. One man, carrying a load of pickaxe heads, walked away and refused to drop his booty. He finally did so after a soldier pointed an assault rifle at him.
The looting resumed once troops left.
South African troops distributed fliers telling the 2 million people of Lesotho (pronounced le-SOO-too), a poor country the size of Maryland, that the intervention was aimed at preventing "anarchy."
Lesotho's government requested the intervention two weeks ago amid a revolt by junior Lesotho military officers and strikes that paralyzed Maseru. The mutineers had apparently sided with opposition parties that claimed elections last May - swept by the ruling Lesotho Congress Party - were rigged.
South African officials have stressed the intervention came under the authority of the Southern African Development Community.