Eight police officers killed in Sierra Leone during anti-government protests, minister says

The officers, six men and two women, were “roughed up” and killed in the area where the protests took place on Wednesday, Youth Minister Mohamed Orman Bangura said.

The protests sometimes turned violent. Graphic images and videos of beaten and seriously injured protesters and some members of the security forces could be seen on social media. Security forces were also seen shooting at citizens.

Bangura said he could not immediately confirm the number of civilians killed or injured in the violent protests.

“We don’t yet know how many people were injured, but I can confirm that eight police officers were killed.”

Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh imposed a curfew on Wednesday to quell protests.

Youth Minister Bangura described the protests as an “act of terrorism”.

“They are not protesters. There is a difference between a protest, a riot and acts of terrorism. Protesting is different from acting as a terrorist… going against the state , kill young policemen,” he said.

Curfew declared in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown amid violent anti-government protests

“Police have made arrests,” the minister told CNN while accusing the country’s opposition of funding the protests.

“It was well planned, calculated and funded by members of the opposition All People’s Congress. Members of the opposition paid young people to take to the streets to seize power,” said Bangura, a member of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party.

“If the protest is a consequence of the cost of living, why isn’t it taking place in all the strongholds of the current government? Why is it in Makeni which happens to be the headquarters of the opposition? ‘isn’t it a nationwide protest over 16 districts, why are there only three districts that they (the opposition) consider their stronghold? I asked

CNN has contacted the opposition party APC for comment, but has not yet received a response.

However, Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, who is a leading politician in the main opposition APC party, denounced the violence.

During this year emotional video posted on Wednesdayand, Aki Sawyerr pleaded for an end to violence and said, “It’s not about parties it’s about people.”

The mayor added that she prayed for peace and national unity in Sierra Leone alongside the steering committee of religious leaders.

“Today in our city…my heart goes out to all those who lost their lives and loved ones…those who lost property throughout the city. We are all brothers and sisters…I fully believe in peace and I stand up against violence,” she said, speaking in the local Creole dialect.