Attempted Coup in Sierra Leone Leaves 19 Dead

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The military officers have been arrested for attempting to stage a coup. (Image credit: Reuters)

A series of attacks in which armed men attacked institutions in the capital city, including military barracks and prisons, in Sierra Leone over the weekend was a failed coup attempt, according to police and government officials in the West African country. Information Minister Chernor Bah said that 13 military officers and one civilian have been arrested following the incident. He claimed that gunmen had tried to “subvert and overthrow” the government on Sunday.

The assailants freed around 2,000 inmates, with at least 19 people, comprising security forces and a civilian, dying in the violence. The men also stormed a military barracks located close to the presidential residence, then attempted to take weapons from the armory. The attempt failed, and plenty of the leaders are either in police custody or on the run. “We will try to capture them and bring them to the full force of the laws of Sierra Leone,” says Bah. Thirteen military officers and one civilian have been arrested over the ordeal.

Although calm was largely restored to Freetown on Monday, shots were fired on Tuesday in the Murray Town neighborhood. The police said this was part of an operation to apprehend perpetrators of Sunday’s attack. No-one was hurt in this incident and a person of interest has been detained, officers said. The entire country has been under a number of curfews since the attempted coup. 

Twenty-three prisoners have been returned to Pademba Road prison, according to a report from the facility.

The political situation in Sierra Leone has been tense since June, when President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected, narrowly missing out on the need to have a run-off. The result was rejected by the main opposition candidate and questioned by international partners, including the United States and the European Union. In August, a number of soldiers were arrested and accused of plotting a coup against the president. West African bloc Ecowas said on Tuesday it was primed to deploy regional support to “strengthen national security” in Sierra Leone.

Written by Paula Onuoha

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