Eight police officers were killed during violent anti-government protests in Sierra Leone on Wednesday, the country’s youth minister told CNN on Thursday, while hospital sources told Reuters that at least 21 civilians died in different parts of the country.
Six men and two women officers were “brutalized” and killed in the area where the protests took place on Wednesday, Youth Minister Mohammad Orman Bangura said.
Hundreds of protesters The capital descended on the streets of Freetown On Wednesday, the West African country protested against inflation and the rising cost of living.
At times the protests turned violent. Graphic images and videos of protesters being beaten and seriously injured and some members of the security forces can be seen on social media. Security forces were seen firing on civilians.
Bangura said he could not confirm how many civilians were killed or injured in the violent protests.
“We don’t know yet how many people have been injured, but I can confirm that eight police officers were killed.”
According to Reuters, At least 21 citizens Killed at different places in the country. According to hospital sources, 13 people were shot dead in Freetown and eight were killed in the towns of Kamkawi and Makeni.
Vice President Mohammad Zuldeh Jalloh imposed a curfew on Wednesday to quell the protests.
Youth minister Bangura described the protest as an “act of terrorism”.
“They are not protestors. There is a difference between protests and riots and terrorist acts. Protesting is different from acting as a terrorist…going against the state, killing young police officers,” he said.
“Police have made some arrests,” the minister told CNN, accusing the country’s opposition of funding the protests.
It was planned, calculated and financed by members of the opposition All People’s Congress. Members of opposition parties paid youths to come to the streets to take over,” said Bangura, a member of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party.
“If this protest is due to the cost of living, why is it not happening in all the strongholds of the present government? Why is Makeni where the opposition party is headquartered? Why not a nationwide strike? Why do they (opponents) consider only three out of 16 districts as their stronghold? he asked.
CNN has reached out to the opposition APC for comment, but has yet to hear back.
However, Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, one of the leading politicians in the main opposition APC party, condemned the violence.
in one An emotional video released on Wednesdayy, Aki Sawyer called for an end to the violence, saying: “It’s not about the party, it’s about the people.”
The mayor added that she was praying for peace and national unity in Sierra Leone with a steering committee of religious leaders.
“My heart goes out to all those in our city today… who lost their lives and loved ones… who lost property across the city. We are all brothers and sisters… I fully believe in peace and stand against violence,” she said, speaking in the local Creole dialect.