Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has confirmed the loss of thirteen soldiers in the gun battles at the Pademba Road Prisons, Wilberforce, Cockeril and Murray Town military barracks in Freetown.
According to Colonel Issa Bangura, the Director of Defence, Public Relations, and Information for RSLAF, there were a number of Killed In Action (KIA), Wounded In Action (WIA) and Arrested.
KIA RSLAF – 13
KIA SLP – 1
KIA Prisons – 1
KIA Female Civilian 1 (Stray Bullet)
KIA Local Journalist – 1
KIA Assailants – 3
WIA RSLAF – 8
Arrested Assailants -4
The clash ensued between the military and unidentified armed individuals.
Speaking on National TV on Monday, Colonel Bangura emphasised that while casualties are inevitable in such situations, the primary goal is to prevent harm to civilians. He labelled the incident as an attempt at state subversion and disclosed that eight others sustained injuries, receiving treatment at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown.
The unsettling events unfolded in the early hours of Sunday, as Wilberforce residents were startled by gunfire from the country’s main military barracks. The assailants targeted the armoury, successfully stealing RPG tubes but failing to obtain ammunition. Other military barracks in Freetown also faced attacks, all of which were repelled by the military.
Colonel Bangura implicated some assailants as former members of the country’s security forces, alleging support from individuals within the military. He hinted at the assailants’ motive, stating, “These assailants have a motive of freeing their colleagues at Pademba Road prison that were detained following allegations of subversion.”
Despite the limited reaction time of the military, Colonel Bangura explained the challenges of assembling all soldiers simultaneously due to the dispersed nature of military barracks across the country. Abdul Karim Will of the Office of National Security reassured the public of the security sector’s control over the situation and urged adherence to curfew directives.
He emphasized the importance of reporting any suspicions via toll-free numbers and warned against harbouring escapees from Pademba Road prison, emphasizing the criminal nature of such actions. Colonel Bangura appealed to colleagues to uphold their oath of loyalty to the state and the government.
The Sierra Leone Police’s Head of Media and Public Relations, ACP Brima Kamara, reported that assailants also targeted two police stations in eastern Freetown, disarming officers. The assailants were ultimately chased out of the city, and over 1,000 prisoners escaped from both male and female correctional facilities.
ACP Kamara stressed that escaping lawful custody is an offence and urged those who fled to surrender at the nearest police station to avoid re-arrest and charges. The authorities remain vigilant, assuring the public of ongoing efforts to address the situation and maintain security in the country.