Failed Coup Attempt in Sierra Leone Claims 20 Lives

Harare — A failed coup attempt was the reason behind a series of attacks on military facilities and prisons over the weekend, according to government and police sources in Sierra Leone, Al Jazeera reports.

Following the event, 13 military officers and one citizen were detained, according to Information Minister Chernor Bah. “The attempted coup failed in the early hours of November 26, when a group of people forcibly attempted to unseat the administration”, the Inspector General of Police William Fayia Sellu said.

Police have published photographs of the thirty-two men and two women wanted in connection with the coup attempt. They include current and former law enforcement and military personnel. The attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 20 people and the escape of over 2,200 inmates from the prisons they attacked, government officials have said.

President Julius Bio, in a televised speech on Sunday, November 26, said that the government had detained “most of the leaders” of the attack and that it would keep looking for the others.

Authorities reported that thirteen troops, three attackers, a police officer, a civilian, and a private security employee were among the dead. There were also eight major injuries. Capital city Freetown is still tense with several checkpoints still visible, while banks and schools are closed, and there is a curfew that is in effect from sunset to sunrise.

After a contentious election in June 2023 that saw Bio re-elected, despite concerns from U.S. and EU election monitors, tensions have been rising in the West African country. The opposition All People’s Congress (APC) candidate Samura Kamara, disapproved of the results and said the election was illegitimate.

Along with the economic effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation has also experienced protests against rising food prices. In August 2022, police opened fire on protesters.

In August 2023, a growing number of countries criticised the number of coups in Africa.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is chair of the West African regional bloc Ecowas, is concerned at the “autocratic contagion” spreading in Africa and is working with world leaders and the African Union to resolve it, presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale has said.

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