Deadly anti-government protests erupt in Sierra Leone
Anti-government protesters have clashed with police in the capital city of Sierra Leone over the rising cost of living.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh confirmed that there had been fatalities in the clashes in Freetown.
Six police officers and at least 21 civilians have been killed, according to police and other Reuters sources.
In a national broadcast, Jalloh also announced a nationwide curfew from 15:00 on Wednesday in a bid to stem the violence.
“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and an unauthorised protest, which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” Jalloh said, adding that some public buildings including police stations had been attacked and burned down.
Protesters have called for the departure of Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and still has 10 months left in his term. Demonstrators chanted “Bio must go” as they made their way through the streets of Freetown.
The cost of living in Sierra Leone has risen by more than 40% within the last few months, while electricity and fuel prices also have spiked.
The government has criticised the unidentified organisers of the protest, warning that the country already has suffered enough after more than a decade of civil war that ended in 2002.
“Sierra Leone has gone through a lot so let us change the trajectory and not allow people to divide us,” Abdul Karim Will, spokesman for the Office of National Security, told the national radio broadcaster earlier in the day.