Sierra Leone implemented a nationwide curfew following an attack by unidentified gunmen on a military barracks and an attempted break-in at an armoury in the capital, Freetown, as announced by the government on Sunday.
According to a government statement, security forces have successfully managed to control the situation. Information Minister Chernor Bah stated, “In the early hours of Sunday, some unidentified individuals attempted to break into the military armoury at the Wilberforce barracks. They have been rebuffed.”
The government’s response was swift, with an immediate declaration of a nationwide curfew. The statement emphasized, “A nationwide curfew has been declared with immediate effect … We strongly advise citizens to stay indoors.”
Tensions in Sierra Leone have persisted since the controversial re-election of President Julius Maada Bio in June, an election result rejected by the main opposition candidate. President Maada Bio asserted that the anti-government protests in August, which resulted in the deaths of six police officers and at least 21 civilians, aimed at overthrowing the government.
President Maada Bio, in a message posted on his X social media account on Sunday, acknowledged a breach of security as unidentified individuals targeted the military armoury. The post stated, “As the combined team of our security forces continues to root out the remnants of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared, and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors.”
The West and Central African region has experienced eight military coups since 2020, dealing repeated blows to democracy in an area that had been making strides in shedding its “coup belt” reputation.
Despite the government’s efforts, sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the deserted streets of Freetown near the barracks on Sunday, as reported by a Reuters journalist who encountered a group of renegade soldiers. One of the masked men in military fatigues declared, “We’ll clean this society. We know what we are up to. We are not after any ordinary civilians who should go about their normal business,” before departing.
On Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional bloc in West Africa, expressed its condemnation of the endeavour to ‘disrupt constitutional order’ in Sierra Leone, as stated in an official release.