President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone declared that most of the leaders behind the attack on a military barracks in Freetown had been apprehended, emphasizing that security operations and investigations were ongoing. The incident occurred earlier on Sunday when “renegade soldiers” attempted to break into a military armoury, prompting a nationwide curfew and gunfire across the city.
President Bio assured the nation of accountability for those responsible, stating, “We will ensure that those responsible are held accountable.” He addressed the nation on television, declaring that the challenge had been overcome, and calm had been restored.
The assailants targeted a military barracks, prison, and a police station during the early hours of Sunday, leading to a nationwide curfew. While the government reported that security forces repelled the attack, details on casualties were not immediately clear. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma condemned the barracks attack and revealed that a military guard at his residence was shot point blank.
President Bio, re-elected in June amid contested results, called for unity among political, traditional leaders, and civil society to preserve peace. The West African country has experienced tension since the election, with international partners questioning the electoral process.
Information Minister Chernor Bah stated that security forces were progressing in apprehending the attackers, and a video on social media purportedly showed three detained individuals in military custody. Major detention centers, including Pademba Road prisons, were attacked, leading to the release of inmates.
The situation prompted the Economic Community of West African States to condemn the attempt to disturb constitutional order in Sierra Leone. The U.S. embassy in Freetown emphasized that such actions were not justified.
The unrest in Sierra Leone echoes events in August 2022 when anti-government protests resulted in fatalities. President Bio attributed the protests to an attempt to overthrow the government. The recent incident raises concerns about stability in a country still recovering from a civil war that occurred from 1991 to 2002.
The government’s response includes heightened security measures, a nationwide curfew, and efforts to restore order in the wake of the barracks attack and subsequent unrest.