13 soldiers killed in Sierra Leone

Thirteen soldiers were among the 19 killed during Sunday’ s violence in Sierra Leone, which saw gunmen attacking a military barracks and prisons, an army spokesman has said. Sierra Leoneans spent Sunday under a nationwide curfew amid disarray in capital, Freetown. A BBC correspondent saw armed men on the streets chanting that they would“ clean” Sierra Leone.

Thirteen soldiers were among the 19 killed during Sunday’s violence in Sierra Leone, which saw gunmen attacking a military barracks and prisons, an army spokesman has said.

Sierra Leoneans spent Sunday under a nationwide curfew amid disarray in capital, Freetown.

The information minister described the attacks as “co-ordinated and planned”.

A BBC correspondent saw armed men on the streets chanting that they would “clean” Sierra Leone.

As well as the 13 soldiers, one police officer, one civilian and a private security employee were also killed along with three of the attackers, Army spokesman Col Issa Bangura said.

Eight soldiers were also wounded in action.

In the attack on one of the prisons, some 1,890 inmates escaped, the Reuters news agency said, citing a situation report.

The violence was a “very serious breach”, Information Minister Chernoh Bah saud.

“These were co-ordinated and properly planned attacks on the security and wellbeing of our state.”

Bah said current and former military officials were among those involved, some of whom have been detained by security forces.

Gunmen, witnessed by the BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Freetown on Sunday, wore military uniforms and balaclavas.

Addressing suggestions that there had been an attempted coup, Bah said: “We have apprehended some of the major leaders of yesterday’s attack and they are currently being interrogated by our security forces.

“Once they can ascertain the full intent of their actions… we will make a declaration on whether it was an attempted coup.”

Several countries in West and Central Africa are under military rule after a series of recent coups. These include Sierra Leone’s neighbour Guinea as well as Mali, Niger and Chad.

A former President, Ernest Koroma, also came close to Sunday’s violence.

A military source on Sunday told the BBC that one of Mr Koroma’s guards had been detained – hours later the former leader announced that a guard of his had been killed and another abducted.

In a statement, Koroma said he “strongly condemned” the violence, in which “Corporal Eddie Conteh was reportedly shot at point blank range while his colleague, Warrant Officer John Swarray was whisked away to an unknown location”.—BBC