Hundreds protest on the streets of Freetown

Hundreds protest on the streets of Freetown

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone on Wednesday. They were protesting inflation and the rising cost of living in the West African country.

At times, the protests turned violent. On social media, there were graphic depictions of beaten and critically hurt demonstrators as well as some security personnel. Additionally, security personnel were spotted shooting at civilians.

While President Julius Maada Bio is away from the country, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh issued a statewide curfew on Wednesday starting at 3 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET).

Jalloh mentioned the demonstrators and the deaths without providing any additional information. He made this known during a speech that was broadcast to announce the curfew.

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“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and unauthorized protests which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” the Vice President said.

In a tweet, the US Embassy in Freetown appealed for “calm and restraint on all sides.”

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the government, said, “The protests started this morning but have been brewing since last week.”

“People are protesting about inflation, hyperinflation and the cost of living. The police are too aggressive when handling issues; and it came to the point where the people’s backs were against the wall,” he added.

Earlier, Internet monitoring service NetBlocks reported there was a widespread interruption in internet access from several providers.

“Confirmed: Real-time network data show that #SierraLeone is in the midst of a near-total internet shutdown amid anti-government protests in #Freetown; metrics indicate national connectivity at 5% of ordinary levels,” NetBlocks said in a tweet.

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