FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra LeoneThe president stated most of these liable for the weekend assaults on the nation’s principal navy barracks and prisons had been arrested, though the capital remained tense on Monday with many streets empty after the easing of the curfew from 24 hours and nightfall to daybreak confinement. .
After an assault early Sunday morning that raised fears of a doable coup in a troubled area, safety forces continued to seek for fleeing suspects and inmates launched from one of many nation’s principal prisons.
Nevertheless, “calm has returned,” President Julius Maada Bio stated in a speech Sunday night, including that safety operations and investigations continued.
On Monday, the president obtained a delegation from the West African regional financial bloc ECOWAS – of which Sierra Leone is a member – and Nigeria who, he stated, visited to “convey a message of solidarity” from the bloc.
Residents of the capital Freetown had been woke up by heavy gunfire as gunmen tried to interrupt into the important thing armory of the nation’s largest navy barracks, situated close to the presidential villa in a closely guarded a part of town.
The gunmen exchanged fireplace for a number of hours with safety forces. Additionally they focused main detention facilities – together with the central jail housing greater than 2,000 detainees – and launched or kidnapped an unconfirmed variety of individuals, authorities stated.
Not a lot is publicly identified in regards to the id or intentions of the attackers or these killed, though former President Ernest Bai Koroma stated certainly one of his navy guards was killed whereas on obligation in his residence within the capital whereas one other was taken away.
Round 100 launched detainees introduced themselves on the prisons and 4 of the attackers had been arrested, stated a spokesperson for the Sierra Leonean Police advised the Related Press.
In interviews with native media, among the attackers stated their aim was to “clear up the system,” not goal civilians.
“Their principal goal was to interrupt into the arms and ammunition retailer, and so they had been in a position to get well large portions of them which they scattered across the capital,” stated Abdul Fatorma, a Sierra Leonean analyst and director common of Marketing campaign for Human. Worldwide for the Growth of Rights.
Kars de Bruijne, head of the Sahel program on the Clingendael Institute, stated the attackers numbered greater than 50 and dominated out the likelihood that it was a random legal incident.
“It’s changing into simpler to acquire weapons, particularly by way of the border with Guinea,” Bruijne stated.
Neighboring Guinea stays politically unstable after a coup in 2021. Sierra Leone itself continues to be recovering from an 11-year civil conflict that ended greater than twenty years in the past. Its inhabitants of 8 million is among the many poorest on the planet.
The assaults have worsened political tensions in West and Central Africa the place coups have elevated, with eight navy takeovers since 2020, notably in Niger and Gabon this yr.
The ECOWAS bloc described the assaults as a plot “aimed toward buying weapons and disrupting peace and constitutional order”.
The assaults had been “an try to undermine the peace and stability we have now labored so laborious for,” stated Bio, who was re-elected in a disputed vote in June. Two months after his re-election, police stated that they had arrested a number of individuals, together with senior military officers who deliberate to make use of the protests to “undermine the peace”.
The 9 p.m. to six a.m. curfew will stay in impact till additional discover, Info Minister Chernor Bah stated, encouraging residents to “stay calm however vigilant.”
However many individuals within the capital and throughout the nation stayed residence, frightened about doable violence.
“I can’t danger my son’s life,” stated Kady Kamara, who didn’t take her son to high school. She stayed away from the market the place she works.
In central Freetown, Adama Hawa Bah, whose home is near Pademba Highway jail, stated he noticed inmates strolling freely after the jail assault.
“Many are hiding amongst us,” Bah stated. “We might slightly be protected inside than be shocked exterior.”