Police and other reports said that dozens of people died in anti-government rallies in Sierra Leone on Thursday, substantially increasing the number of fatalities from the previous day’s skirmishes while horrified residents generally hid behind closed doors in the capital city of Freetown.
When hundreds of people came to the streets in protest of economic hardship and what they saw to be the government’s failure to mitigate the effects of rising prices, six police officers and at least 21 civilians were killed.
Particularly in Freetown, the capital of the West African nation, the turmoil was incredibly unusual for Sierra Leone. In recent years, a few people have died in sporadic protests in various places.
Long kept in check, the frustration of the populace has recently increased due to rising prices for necessities in a nation where, according to the World Bank, more than half of the 8 million people live below the poverty line.
According to police inspector general William Fayia Sellu, the number of fatalities on Wednesday comprised two police officers murdered in Freetown, three in the northern town of Kamakwie, and one in the northern city of Makeni.
According to workers at the city’s main morgue, at least 13 civilians were shot and killed in Freetown. Four civilians were murdered in Kamakwie, and another four in Makeni, according to hospital sources.
Residents claimed that Freetown experienced an eerie silence on Thursday as businesses were closed and many stayed indoors out of concern about disturbance.
Internet monitoring service NetBlocks said that there were two hours of internet outages on Wednesday and again overnight.
The government issued a 3 p.m. curfew on Wednesday in an effort to stop the violence, and police announced that the curfew will be in place from Thursday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. local time.