Business & Economy

Sierra Leone government claims to have suffered a coup attempt

Freetown, Nov 28 (EFE).- The Government of Sierra Leone assured Tuesday that the perpetrators of Sunday’s attack on an Army barracks in the country’s capital, Freetown, had the intention of carrying out a coup.

Armed men had tried to break into an armory at a military base near the president’s home, then attacked two of the city’s main prisons, releasing some of the inmates.

At least 19 people, including 13 soldiers, died in the violence, according to the army. The government says 13 military officers and one civilian have been arrested.

“The incident was a failed attempted coup. The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government,” Sierra Leone’s Information Minister Chernoh Bah said at a news conference in Freetown.

“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 law of Sierra Leone,” he added.

The head of the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Information also mourned the death of 13 soldiers, a police officer, a prison officer, a civilian who worked in a private security company and three attackers.

Tuesday afternoon gunshots were heard in Murray Town, a suburb west of Freetown, which Bah confirmed were part of “ongoing operations to apprehend those responsible” for the attack.

Bah also said that “a person of interest has been arrested and is now in the custody of security forces. No one was injured in the process. We urge all citizens to remain calm and continue with their normal activities,” he said.

Unidentified armed individuals attacked the Wilberforce barracks, one of the largest in this West African country and the Army’s main barracks on Sunday.

The gunmen also attacked several prisons and released inmates in the capital, forcing the authorities to impose an indefinite curfew that, as of Monday, runs from 9:00 p.m. local time to 6:00 a.m. local time until further notice.

The country’s president, Julius Maada Bio, assured on Sunday night that calm was restored and most of the ringleaders of the attacks were arrested.

The attack on the barracks has been condemned by the European Union, the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the United States and the United Kingdom, among others.

The incident occurred still under the shadow of the elections of June 24, which gave Bio a second term with 56.17% of the votes, despite the fact that the opposition questioned the result.

His main rival in the elections, the opposition Samura Kamara, gave his support to the Government’s measures last Sunday and stressed that “peace, unity and security” of the country “are paramount.”

In the last three years there have been successful coups in Gabon, Niger, Mali, Guinea-Conakry, Sudan and Burkina Faso. EFE

iks/mcd/ics

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