Sierra Leone Issues Nationwide Curfew After Barracks Attack

Sierra Leone’s president has imposed a nationwide curfew Sunday after gunmen attacked the country’s main and largest military barracks in the capital city, overrunning detention centers, including a major prison.

The unidentified gunmen attacked the military armory within the Wilberforce barracks in the capital of Freetown in the early hours of the day.

Information Minister Chernor Bah issued a statement Sunday, reporting that the curfew would be in effect until further notice.

Witnesses said they had heard gunshots and explosions. Susan Kargbo reported that she was awakened “by a loud sound of heavy machine gun (fire) and bombs coming from the Wilberforce barracks around 4:30 am.

It was not clear if there were any casualties in the attack or during the gunfire in Freetown.

“The security forces are making progress in the operation to defeat and apprehend those responsible for today’s attacks,” said Bah. “The government remains in control and on top of the situation.”

“We are trying to collate the number of arrests and casualties,” he added.“Those responsible for today’s attack will be hunted down to face the full force of the law.”

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) issued a statement underlining “its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.”

In a statement on national television, Bio announced Sunday night that most of the leaders involved in the attack were arrested, stating that “security operations and investigations are ongoing.”

Bio has faced criticism due to the debilitating economic conditions. About 60% of Sierra Leone’s population faces poverty, with the youth unemployment rate being one of the highest in West Africa.

Tension and violence have increased since Bio, who was first elected in 2018, was re-elected in June about 56% of the vote, just over the 55% needed to avoid a run-off.

Two months after the election, officers reported arresting several people, including senior military officers planning to use protests “to undermine peace” in the country.

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