A nationwide curfew has been imposed following the attack on Sierra Leone military camps

Sierra Leone’s president and ruling party candidate, Julius Mata Bio, speaks to reporters after voting for national elections at a polling station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, June 24, 2023. REUTERS/Cooper Inveen/File Photo Obtain licensing rights

  • Unidentified gunmen attack military weapons in Sierra Leone
  • The government said the attack has been foiled and the situation is under control
  • Sporadic gunfire is still heard in the capital

FREETOWN, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Sierra Leone has declared a nationwide curfew after unidentified gunmen attacked an army camp in the capital Freetown and tried to break into an arsenal.

Security forces have brought the situation under control, a government statement said.

“In the early hours of Sunday morning, some unidentified persons attempted to break into the army armory at Wilberforce Barracks. They were repulsed,” Information Minister Cerner Pa said in a statement.

“A nationwide curfew has been declared with immediate effect… We strongly advise citizens to stay indoors,” the statement added.

The political situation in the West African nation has remained tense since the re-election of President Julius Mata Bayo in a disputed June election, the result of which was rejected by the main opposition candidate.

At the time, President Maada Bio said the anti-government protests that killed six police officers and at least 21 civilians last August were an attempt to topple the government.

In a message on the President’s X social media account on Sunday, he said that the security breach occurred when some unidentified persons attacked the military arsenal.

“A nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors as a combined team of our security forces continues to evacuate the remnants of the fleeing traitors,” the post said.

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There have been eight military coups in West and Central Africa since 2020, dealing repeated blows to democracy in a region that has made progress in shedding its “coup” moniker.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the empty streets of Freetown on Sunday, a Reuters reporter who encountered a group of renegades said.

“We will clean up this society. We know what we are doing. We will not let any ordinary citizen go about their ordinary business,” one of the masked men said before driving away in military fatigues.

Reporting by Umaru Fobana, Writing by Pat Felix, Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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