Calm returns to Sierra Leone as protest demise toll rises

At least six protesters and 6 law enforcement officials had been killed as anti-government protests in Sierra Leone turned violent, based on officers and native media reviews.

Hundreds of individuals took to the streets on Wednesday in a public show of anger over financial situations within the nation and to protest the perceived failure by the federal government to cushion the impact of rising costs.

At least six protesters had been killed, the AFP information company reported, citing a morgue technician on the Connaught Hospital in Freetown; native media reported that seven protesters died.

Two law enforcement officials had been killed in Freetown, three within the northern city of Kamakwie and one within the northern metropolis of Makeni, Police Inspector General William Fayia Sellu instructed the Reuters information company.

Al Jazeera was not capable of independently confirm demise tolls.

Deadly unrest is unusual for Sierra Leone, particularly within the West African nation’s capital Freetown. Relative calm returned to the town on Thursday after a nationwide curfew was imposed. Police and troops patrolled the streets of the capital, and a few outlets within the metropolis’s central enterprise district had reopened, AFP reported.

A Demonstrator Throws A Gas Canister During An Anti-Government Protest, In Freetown, Sierra Leone.
A demonstrator throws a fuel canister throughout an anti-government protest in Freetown, Sierra Leone [Reuters]

What started Wednesday as a peaceable meeting by market girls to attract consideration to “economic hardship” descended into clashes between safety forces and younger males demanding the president resign.

Several police stations had been burned down and vandalised across the nation, it mentioned.

A police assertion mentioned 113 “suspects” had been arrested within the northwest and northeast provinces.

‘Embrace dialogue’

One video verified by Reuters from Freetown confirmed a police officer firing a gun right into a crowd.

Sulaiman Turay, a 19-year-old living in east Freetown, marched briefly earlier than police began firing tear fuel and mentioned he later noticed demonstrators getting shot at from his porch.

“I think people are shocked. It’s not the country we know. Sierra Leone is a peaceful place,” he mentioned.

A curfew imposed on Wednesday would proceed from Thursday between 7pm (19:00 GMT) and 7am, the police mentioned, with out specifying an finish date for the measure.

The authorities additionally introduced it had put in place “mechanisms” to observe social media and warned the general public towards spreading “incendiary” data “to destabilise the state”.

The web was lower for 2 hours on Wednesday and once more in a single day, based on web observatory NetBlocks.

President Julius Maada Bio, who had been within the United Kingdom on a personal go to, returned forward of schedule on Wednesday evening, based on presidency spokesperson Tanu Jalloh.

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“As a government, we have the responsibility to protect every citizen of Sierra Leone”, the president mentioned on Twitter, describing the occasions as “unfortunate” and promising an investigation.

“I urge all Sierra Leoneans to be calm”, he added.

The United Nations, European Union, UK and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have all condemned Wednesday’s violence.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, urged the federal government to carry “prompt, impartial and thorough investigations … and bring those responsible to account regardless of their status and political affiliation”.

“I urge all sides to embrace dialogue”, she mentioned.

Sierra Leone has had a repute for relative stability because the finish of a civil battle that ran from 1991 to 2002.

Its inhabitants of eight million individuals reside in one of many poorest nations on the planet, rating 182 out of 189 nations within the UN’s Human Development Index, a benchmark of prosperity.

The economic system, closely depending on minerals, was devastated by the civil battle that left about 120,000 lifeless.

Efforts at rebuilding had been set again by an Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016, a fall in world commodity costs and the coronavirus pandemic — all of which have disrupted commerce and funding and hit exports.

In July, the nation slashed three zeros off its foreign money in a bid to revive confidence within the inflation-hit leone.

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