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VP Announces Nationwide Curfew after Security Forces Clashed with Demonstrators in Freetown

Anti-government protesters in Sierra Leone have clashed with police in the streets of the capital, Freetown, as tensions over the rising cost of living turned deadly in the West African nation. On Thursday, police inspector general William Fayia Sellu said six police officers had been killed. The death toll for protesters was not immediately available. Demonstrators demanded the departure of President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and still has 10 months left in his term. They chanted “Bio must go” as they made their way through the capital, Freetown. Videos on social media showed large crowds of protesters and piles of burning tyres in eastern Freetown. Other footage showed a group of young men throwing rocks on a street filled with whitish smoke and another group attacking a man on the ground. Earlier, internet observatory NetBlocks said Sierra Leone faced a near-total internet shutdown with national connectivity at 5 percent of ordinary levels. Regional political and economic bloc ECOWAS said it condemned the violence and called in a Twitter post for “all to obey law and order and for the perpetrators of the violence to be identified and brought before the law.”