Vice President of Sierra Leone Mohamed Jalloh, imposed a curfew on Wednesday from 3 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) in a bid to quell anti-government protests that resulted in the deaths of several persons and about eight police officers. According to officials and local media reports, hundreds of people took to the streets on Wednesday in a public display of frustration over inflation, rising cost of living, and general economic conditions in the country. It was gathered that the police officers, including six men and two women, were “brutalised” and killed in the area where the protests were held on Wednesday, youth minister Mohamed Bangura said. Bangura said he could not immediately confirm the number of civilians killed or injured in the violent demonstrations. “We are yet to know how many people were injured, but I can confirm that eight police officers were killed,” he said. Bangura also described the protests as an "act of terrorism."
"Those are not protesters. There's a difference between protest and riot and acts of terrorism. Protesting is different from acting as a terrorist...going against the state, killing young police officers," he said.
Graphic images and videos of battered and seriously injured protesters and some members of security forces could be seen on social media. Security forces were also seen firing guns at citizens.
"As a government, we have the responsibility to protect every citizen of Sierra Leone. What happened today was unfortunate and will be fully investigated," said President Julius Maada Bio on Twitter.
Bangura further told CNN that "The police have made some arrests."
Bangura, who is a member of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party said accused the country's opposition of financing the protests.
"This was well planned, calculated, and financed by members of the opposition All People's Congress. Members of the opposition paid young people to come to the street to take over governance," he said.
"If the protest is as a result of the cost of living, why is it not happening in all the strongholds of the current government? Why is it in Makeni that happens to be the headquarters town of the opposition? Why is it not a nationwide strike? Out of 16 districts, why is it only in three districts that they (the opposition) think is their stronghold?" he asked.