Dozens died in anti-government protests in Sierra Leone, police and other sources
said on Thursday, sharply raising the death toll from the previous day’s clashes as
shocked citizens stayed mostly behind closed doors in the capital Freetown
Six police officers and at least 21 civilians were killed as hundreds took to the streets
angry at economic hardship and a perceived failure by the government to cushion the
impact of rising prices.
The unrest is highly unusual for the west African country, especially in its capital. A
few people have died in isolated protests in other cities in recent years.
A video verified by Reuters showed a police officer firing a gun into a crowd of
demonstrators in Freetown.
“I think people are shocked. It’s not the country we know. Sierra Leone is a peaceful
place,” said 19-year-old Sulaiman Turay, who marched briefly before police started
firing teargas. The country’s President Julius Maada Bio said the incidents would be
Long held in check, citizens’ frustrations were exacerbated by rising prices for basic
goods in a country where, according to the World Bank, more than half the
population of around eight million live below the poverty line.
This week’s death toll included two police officers in Freetown, three in the northern
town of Kamakwie, and one in the northern city of Makeni.
At least 13 civilians were shot dead in the capital, said staff at Freetown’s main
Hospital sources said that four civilians were killed in Kamakwie and another four in