June 16, 2024

Sierra Leone’s capital tense amidst attacks as president announces arrests, imposes lockdown


In the aftermath of a weekend marked by audacious attacks on Sierra Leone’s main military facilities and prisons, the capital, Free Town, grapples with the aftermath. President Juulius Madda Bio’s announcement of the arrest of most assailant leaders failed to quell tension, prompting the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn lockdown following the relaxation of a 24-hour curfew.

Sunday (Nov. 26) witnessed Free Town’s business owners facing substantial losses as the city resonated with the echoes of heavy gunfire.

Gunmen, aiming to breach the critical armory near the presidential villa within the country’s largest military barracks, engaged in a prolonged exchange of fire with security forces. Additionally, major detention centers, including the central prison, were targeted, resulting in the liberation or abduction of an unconfirmed number of individuals.

The assailants’ identities and motives remain shrouded in mystery, with no claims of responsibility. The military reported 13 soldiers killed during the incident, while Col. Issa Bangura revealed that both retired and active military personnel were among the wanted individuals.

Sierra Leone, already on edge since August of the previous year due to widespread protests, faces a renewed security challenge. Notably, President Bio’s victory in divisive elections this August adds a layer of complexity to the prevailing situation.

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