Eswatini soldiers and police officers are seen on the streets near the Oshoek Border Post between Eswatini and South Africa.
- The US embassy in Eswatini confirmed an incident in which soldiers fired on a diplomatic vehicle.
- The embassy said soldiers also tried to search the diplomatic vehicle at a checkpoint.
- The American mission and others have previously called on the Eswatini government to exercise restraint.
In the chaos of Eswatini’s deadly protests, soldiers fired on a United States diplomatic vehicle.
The US Embassy in Eswatini confirmed the incident on Thursday in a tweet, saying “shots were fired at an embassy vehicle on July 1 and we informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the incident via diplomatic note – a standard form of communication [between] diplomatic missions & MFA.”
We can confirm shots were fired at an embassy vehicle on July 1 and we informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the incident via diplomatic note—a standard form of communication btwn diplomatic missions & MFA. We are working closely with the MFA to address the incident.
— U.S. Embassy Eswatini (@USEmbEswatini) July 8, 2021
A diplomatic note between the two embassies was leaked to the media. In the note, dated 3 July, the US Embassy said a soldier of the Eswatini Defence Force shot three live rounds at a diplomatic vehicle, with one shot striking the vehicle.
The same vehicle was then stopped at a checkpoint, where soldiers pointed weapons at the vehicle, and attempted to search the diplomatic vehicle, the note stated. The search by soldiers was in contravention of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The Eswatini government did not respond to a request for comment.
The US, along with the United Kingdom and European Union in Eswatini, issued a joint statement, urging the government to “exercise restraint” in its response to protesters.
The missions also urged protesters to “demonstrate and voice their concerns through non-violent means”.
The statement was released on 1 July, the same day that soldiers fired shots at the diplomatic vehicle.
After weeks of smaller demonstrations, the protests in Eswatini gained momentum last Tuesday, leading to the burning and looting of dozens of shops and businesses.
The Eswatini government said 27 people have been killed in the violence. Activists said at least 50 were killed, and the death toll could be as high as 70, accusing the military and police of indiscriminate violence against demonstrators.
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