An unidentified group of attackers targeted the military armoury in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, prompting the government to impose an immediate nationwide curfew.

The attempted break-in was reported at an army barracks in Freetown. The attackers were repelled by the security forces. The reports indicated gunfire and explosions in the Wilberforce district, home to the targeted military armoury. The Murray Town district, which houses the navy barracks, experienced exchanges of fire. The gunfire also surfaced outside another military site in the capital.

Witnesses and residents reported automatic weapons fire and explosions.

In response to the crisis, Sierra Leone’s government declared a nationwide curfew to facilitate the apprehension of suspects and maintain public safety. Information minister Chernor Bah assured the public that the government and security forces were in control.

No details have been provided regarding the identity or motives of the alleged attackers.

President Julius Maada Bio addressed the nation, confirming the breach of security at the military barracks in Wilberforce, Freetown. He revealed that unidentified individuals had attacked the armoury but were successfully repelled by security forces. The president announced the immediate imposition of a nationwide curfew, urging citizens to stay indoors while security forces address the situation.

President Bio reassured the public that efforts are underway to root out any remaining threats.

Sierra Leone has been struggling with a political crisis since the elections in June. President Bio, re-elected with 56.17% of the vote, just surpassed the 55% threshold to avoid a runoff. International observers criticised the election process, citing inconsistencies, lack of transparency, and incidents of violence and intimidation.

The main opposition party, All People’s Congress (APC), disputed the results, leading to a boycott of all levels of government. In October, an agreement was reached between the APC and the government, mediated by the Commonwealth, the African Union, and ECOWAS. The APC agreed to end its boycott, and in return, detentions and court cases deemed politically motivated were to cease.