The police local unit commander in Kono, Chief Superintendent Joseph Kabia yesterday declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Koidu, eastern Sierra Leone. It follows violent clashes between police and demonstrators. The military had to be called in for assistance.
The protesters, who were demonstrating against the activities of the Koidu Holdings Limited, say they are aggrieved that the mining company’s activities are adversely affecting the environment and their houses which are in the vicinity of the company.
Their action was timed to coincide with a series of blasting that was to have been carried out yesterday.
As we went to press, a civic campaign group Network Movement for Justice for Development confirmed that nine people were shot by police, two of them in critical condition at the Koidu Government hospital.
A spokesman for the protesters told this press that Koidu Holdings had reneged on an agreement they had gone into that included resettling them to a safer place.
They also wanted a renegotiation of the mining lease agreement with the company.
The Public Relations Officer for the company, Ibrahim Sorie denied that the protest had anything to do with resettlement.
“The demonstrators attacked the company’s compound, carted away with fuel, tyres, security lights, and destroyed a generator valued at $39,000 and an electric cable”, Sorie said.
He added that many of the protesters were miners on the company’s plot
Koidu Holdings has been operating in Kono since 1995 under the name Branch Energy, a business outfit of the mercenary group, Executive Outcomes.