Sierra Leone imposes curfew as assailants assault armoury and free prisoners

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Sierra Leone, an English-speaking nation in West Africa, has been going via a political disaster following presidential and common elections in June this 12 months.

Witnesses advised AFP they heard gunshots and explosions within the metropolis’s Wilberforce district, the place the armoury and a few embassies are situated.

Different witnesses reported exchanges of fireplace close to a barracks in Murray City district, house to the navy, and outdoors one other army web site in Freetown.

The knowledge ministry stated ‚Äúthe federal government stays in management and on high of the scenario‚ÄĚ after reporting assaults on prisons earlier within the day that obliged the safety forces to retreat.

‚ÄúThe prisons have been thus overrun‚ÄĚ with some detainees launched and others ‚Äúkidnapped‚ÄĚ, it stated.

Video posted on social networks steered quite a few prisoners had escaped from the central jail.

One man who was in a gaggle filmed on the road by an AFP correspondent stated they’d escaped from the jail.

The knowledge ministry stated safety forces had pushed the attackers to the outskirts of the capital, with clashes ongoing within the Jui space.

Drone video taken by AFP confirmed empty streets within the capital.

Safety forces have been deployed in giant numbers to dam entry to town centre and gunfire had ceased in some neighbourhoods, an AFP journalist reported.

The scenario remained unclear with the authorities making no feedback on the motives or id of the attackers.

‚Äď ‚ÄėLike a struggle‚Äô ‚Äď

President Julius Maada Bio wrote on X, previously Twitter, that the federal government would ‚Äúproceed to guard the peace and safety of Sierra Leone in opposition to the forces that want to truncate our much-cherished stability‚ÄĚ.

‚ÄúWe stay resolute in our willpower to guard democracy in Sierra Leone.‚ÄĚ

Regional bloc the Financial Neighborhood of West African States (ECOWAS), which has contended with a sequence of coups amongst its members since 2020, issued an announcement underlining ‚Äúits zero-tolerance for unconstitutional change of presidency‚ÄĚ.

Echoing language used to sentence previous coup makes an attempt, ECOWAS spoke of its ‚Äúutter disgust‚ÄĚ over a ‚Äúplot by sure people to amass arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order‚ÄĚ.

The US embassy condemned on social media the bid to interrupt into the armoury and supplied continued help for these ‚Äúworking for a peaceable, democratic, wholesome and affluent Sierra Leone‚ÄĚ.

The European Union’s native illustration expressed concern and known as for the respect of constitutional order.

Witness Susan Kargbo advised AFP by phone she was woken “by a loud sound of heavy machine gun (fireplace) and bombs coming from the Wilberforce barracks round 4:30 am.

‚ÄúI used to be shocked and‚Ķ the gunshots continued till this morning, it was like a struggle,‚ÄĚ she stated.

‚Äď Attackers ‚Äėrepelled‚Äô ‚Äď

The federal government stated these making an attempt to interrupt into the armoury had been repelled however requested the general public to remain at house whereas safety operations continued.

‚ÄúThe federal government and our state safety forces are in management,‚ÄĚ stated Info Minister Chernor Bah, who introduced an instantaneous nationwide curfew ‚Äúto allow¬†the safety forces to proceed the method of apprehending the suspects‚ÄĚ.

The native representations of the UK and the European Union echoed the authorities’ recommendation to remain at house.

The civil aviation authority stated Sierra Leone’s airspace remained open however requested airways to reschedule their flights after the lifting of the curfew.

President Bio, who was first elected in 2018, was re-elected in June with 56.17 p.c of the vote ‚ÄĒ simply over the 55 p.c wanted to keep away from a run-off.

Worldwide observers condemned inconsistencies and an absence of transparency within the rely, in addition to acts of violence and intimidation.

The principle opposition All Individuals’s Congress (APC) celebration disputed the outcomes of the presidential, legislative and native elections on June 24 and boycotted all ranges of presidency.

The APC and the federal government signed an settlement in October following talks mediated by the Commonwealth, the African Union and ECOWAS.

The APC agreed to finish its boycott and start taking part in authorities in alternate for an finish to detentions and courtroom instances it stated have been politically motivated.

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