Daily life in Freetown gradually resumed on Monday amid heavy security, following the partial lifting of a curfew imposed after clashes erupted in the city.
The clashes, which occurred in the country’s capital on Sunday, resulted in 13 fatalities among the government-affiliated army, orchestrated by both active and retired soldiers, according to the army spokesperson on Monday.
Colonel Issa Bangura informed reporters that a manhunt had been initiated for those involved in the violent attack, including current and retired serving soldiers. He disclosed that an additional eight soldiers were seriously injured while defending their barracks during the clashes.
Authorities, more than 24 hours after the incident, were yet to provide a complete toll. Armed assailants had stormed a military armoury and multiple prisons, leading to prolonged battles with security forces. The storming resulted in the escape of numerous inmates, with videos on social media showing individuals in uniform either arrested or near a military vehicle.
Despite these events, no clear responsibility or motives had been established. Colonel Bangura highlighted concerns about certain members of the military not aligning with the government or the president, despite their sworn allegiance.
President Julius Maada Bio assured the restoration of calm, describing the incident as an attempt to destabilize peace and stability. He pledged accountability for those responsible, stating that most perpetrators had been apprehended.
The city witnessed a return to some normalcy with the gradual reopening of shops and banks, and traffic resuming. However, schools remained closed, prompting residents like Mariama Kamara to rush for essential supplies.
Despite the calming of tensions, checkpoints on main highways and increased security around official buildings and prisons remained. A curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am was reinstated, while authorities urged citizens to report any suspicious activities.
The recent unrest has raised concerns of potential upheaval in a region that has witnessed several coups since 2020. ECOWAS and various partners urged respect for constitutional order, while former President Ernest Bai Koromo condemned the attacks and called for calm and order.