Sierra Leonean president Julius Maada Bio declared a nationwide curfew with immediate effect on Sunday, a few hours after several unidentified gunmen attacked the Military Barracks at Wilberforce in the capital Freetown in the morning.According to a statement released by Sierra Leonean Minister of Information and Civic Education Mustapha Jambai Massaquoi, the attackers were trying to break into the military armory at Wilberforce Barracks, but all of them were rebuffed. The government assured the public that state security forces are in control, and citizens are strongly advised to stay indoors with the curfew in effect. President Bio said on national television that most of the leaders of the attack had been arrested and calm in the country “had been restored.”The attack follows the months-long social unrest within the country after the June 2023 presidential election, which resulted in President Bio of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) winning with a 56.17 percent majority vote. However, the result became controversial as his main competitor, Samura Kamara of the All People’s Congress (APC), who came second with 41.16 percent, rejected the result for lack of transparency and asked to initiate a thorough investigation into the electoral process. The APC also accused the military of shooting live ammunition and tear gas at their office just one day after the election when APC staff and supporters were sifting through vote data. However, the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM)’s final report released on June 26 found the result credible despite the lack of transparency and the violent incident.The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) released a statement on Sunday, condemning the disturbances in Freetown and calling it an “unconditional change of Government.” Notably, the region is facing a surge in military coups and there have been six African countries taken over by juntas over the past three years, including Gabon and Niger in 2023.

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