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“Sunday’s attack on Freetown was a Failed Attempted Coup…” – Sierra Leone Government confirms

HomeNews“Sunday’s attack on Freetown was a Failed Attempted Coup…” - Sierra Leone Government...

“Sunday’s attack on Freetown was a Failed Attempted Coup…” – Sierra Leone Government confirms

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The Government of Sierra Leone and its security sector has confirmed that what happened on Sunday 26th November, 2023 was a “Failed Attempted Coup”.

At yesterday’s Government Weekly press conference, it was further confirmed that 14 individuals, including 13 military personnel and 1 civilian, have been arrested so far and are now helping the police in their investigations.

Past Sunday, sporadic gunshots and explosions were heard in some parts of the city, especially the mountain village, Wilberforce, hosting the country’s armoury.

There were other exchanges of firing and gunshots near a barracks in Murray Town, off Wilkinson Road, home to the Navy, as well as outside another military site in Freetown.

Some police detention centres, including the country’s Male and Female Correctional Centres on Pademba Road and New England in Freetown.

His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio said in a nationwide address that the attackers have been driven back by security forces and calm has been restored.

He said: “As the combined team of our Security Forces continue to root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors. The security forces are making progress in the operation to defeat and apprehend those responsible for today’s attacks”.

President Bio assured the nation that the situation is under control following an attack on a military barracks in the capital, Freetown. He said most of the leaders who facilitated the attack have been arrested and that the security forces are on high alert.

The president also confirmed that some prisoners escaped from the Pademba Road Prison during the attack, but that they are being pursued and will be recaptured.

He praised the security forces for their swift and decisive action in repelling the attack and restoring order. He also thanked the citizens of Sierra Leone for their calm and cooperation during this difficult time.

He said: “I want to assure everybody who is resident in Sierra Leone that we have overcome this challenge. Together, we will continue on the path of progress and development”.

Chernor Bah, Minister of Information and Civic Education, in a news release issued later on Sunday said: “In the early hours of Sunday November 26th 2023, some unidentified individuals attempted to break into the military armoury at Wilberforce barracks. They have all been rebuffed.

“The public is assured that the government and our state security forces are in control. To enable security forces to continue the process of apprehending the suspects, a nationwide curfew is declared with immediate effect across the country.

“We strongly advise citizens to stay indoors. Please follow the official Ministry of Information and Civic Education channels and our official handles for accurate information and updates on the situation.”

The unidentified gunmen attacked the military armoury within the Wilberforce barracks, early morning.

Colonel Issa Bangura, Director of Defense, Public Relations and Information in the Office of National Security (ONS) said some of the attackers are retired military and police personnel, with assistance of some currently serving military personnel including some middle level ranked officers.

He said the attackers stormed the country’s major correctional centres and released high-levelled prisoners, including those military personnel who were standing trials on alleged Subversion of the State.

The Colonel said: “The attackers’ motive was to storm the correctional centres and release their detained colleagues from the alleged Subversion of the State and then also empower themselves militarily. That was why they targeted the armories.

“The threshold for the attack to be described as a Coup attempt has not been reached, as investigations are still ongoing. Perhaps, after the investigations, we will come out and inform the public whether it was an attempted Coup or not.

“For now, it can only be described as an attempted State Subversion. Breaking into an armoire of a country is a very severe state crime and a motive to destabilise state security. The attackers broke into the depot and succeeded in taking away Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) Tubes”.

He said they have recorded casualties from the military but no report on civilian casualty yet and that 7 personnel were killed in action including officers, several others Wounded In Action (WIA), some are in critical condition and some are responding to treatment at the 34 Military Hospital.

Colonel Bangura went on that they have gotten intelligence that the attackers are currently hiding up the hills overlooking Freetown and that they have gotten teams deployed to do mopping up on those hills.

He said: “On their way running, the attackers abandoned some vehicles and armories. We still have a pocket of them on the run and we are appealing to the public to help us on the watch for any strange happenings within their communities.

“Both them and those freed from prison are dangerous to the society and must be reported to the security sector when sighted. We have summoned all soldiers to report at their respective barracks so that we will be able to give basic military instructions that will enable us to cut off those who are not part of us”.

“ECOWAS reiterates its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government,” the bloc said in a statement.

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