Sierra Leone’s information minister, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, confirmed that the lives of security personnel “had been lost” amid mass protests that hit the country on Wednesday.
Demonstrations have taken place across parts of the capital, Freetown, and other cities known as opposition strongholds.
They are rallying against the high cost of living, corruption and police brutality. Some are also calling for the president to step down.
Crowds in the city of Makeni have been filmed chanting “we want peace, Maada must go,” in reference to Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio.
“You now see visible presence of the army,” said Mr Swaray, who confirmed that the army had been deployed in an attempt to quell protests that, according to him, had not been agreed with the police.
Mr Swaray accused “self-seeking politicians” pf masterminding the violent demonstrations by exploiting “joblessness” among the youth.
Youth employment rate in Sierra Leone rose to 10.77% in 2021, according to the World Bank.
According to the minister, police stations in various parts of the country had been torched.
He said “our government condemns this in the strongest of terms”.