Sierra Leone Declares Nationwide Curfew After Attack On Barracks
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio has declared a nationwide curfew after armed men attacked a military barracks in the country’s capital Freetown. According to authorities, gunmen attacked the nation’s main military barracks before breaking into the Pademba Road Prisons. Some of the inmates of this prison were abducted or freed by this unknown armed group.
Amid worries of a potential coup, the president ordered a nationwide curfew as authorities began to search for and fight back against these alleged gunmen. Gunshots could be heard in Freetown, even though the government assured the civilian population to remain calm.
According to Sierra Leone’s Information Minister Chernor Bah, the prison was attacked around the time that authorities managed to stop the attack at the Wilberforce military barracks. The Pademba Road Prisons holds about 2,000 inmates.
There has been no official word on which inmates were abducted, or who managed to escape during the attack.
However, Bah did say that security forces managed to successfully stop these gunmen, to a certain degree. They managed to push the armed group to the outskirts of the city.
Coups have surged in West and Central African countries in recent years. Civil wars have also become common in certain areas, which has caused massive worry in various parts of Africa as they work to control widespread violence.
Therefore, many in Freetown worried that a potential coup could be underway amid the president’s nationwide curfew. The government attempted to dismiss civilian fears of a coup, saying that they were in complete control of the situation.
However, officials have yet to clarify who these gunmen are. Reasons for the attack have also gone unanswered, thus far.
National Address On The Current Security Situation In Sierra Leone: Sunday, November 26th, 2023 pic.twitter.com/wHAMGeWuIy
— President Julius Maada Bio (@PresidentBio) November 26, 2023
President Bio was only recently reelected for a second term as president a few months ago. Upon winning reelection, the opposing party accused Bio and others of rigging the results. Only two months after Bio won, police arrested several people. These arrests reportedly included senior military officials who were accused of trying “to undermine peace” in Sierra Leone.
Other than his disputed reelection, Bio also faces criticism because of Sierra Leone’s economy. About 60% of the country is in or near poverty levels. The youth unemployment rate is also incredibly high when compared to other West African nations.