In response to a coordinated attack on a military barracks in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the government has declared a nationwide curfew. The assault targeted key military installations, including the Wilberforce military barracks, the armory, and the Pademba Road Prison. The attackers, described as “renegades” by President Julius Maada Bio, also managed to free prisoners during the assault.
President Bio, who was re-elected in a disputed vote earlier this year, addressed the nation, stating that the situation was a breach of security but reassured citizens that “calm has been restored.” He announced the arrest of most leaders involved in the attacks but did not disclose details about their identities. The president emphasized ongoing security operations and investigations.
The attacks took place amid heightened tensions in the country since the disputed election, with the political opposition rejecting the results and citing a lack of transparency. Sierra Leone has faced economic challenges, with high poverty rates and soaring youth unemployment.
Videos circulated on social media depicted heavy gunfire in Freetown, with soldiers setting up blockades in strategic locations. The attackers targeted the central prison, releasing inmates, and engaged security forces in sustained shootouts.
The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, condemned the incident as an attempt to disturb peace and constitutional order. ECOWAS has been working to counter a surge in military coups across West and Central Africa, recording eight since 2020.
President Bio announced an open-ended nationwide curfew, urging citizens to stay indoors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. The government assured the public of its control over the situation, but reports indicate that gunshots continued even after the curfew was announced.
Sierra Leone’s recent history includes a brutal 11-year civil war that ended more than two decades ago. The current unrest comes in the context of political and economic challenges, raising concerns about the stability of the nation.