Sierra Leone's main opposition party called for an independent investigation into the death of one of its members in connection with deadly riots last week.
According to the statement signed by the leader of the former ruling APC, Chernor Maju Bah, the violence on 10 August in Freetown and several localities shows an "erosion of the gains made" in "reconciliation, social cohesion and post-conflict peacebuilding in Sierra Leone".
Maju Bah called for an independent committee to "quickly and definitively investigate" the protests and their consequences. He also called for a count of all those imprisoned and killed during the events and urged the authorities to hand over the bodies to the families.
An anti-cost-of-living demonstration on 10 August degenerated into violent clashes between security forces and young protesters demanding the departure of President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018, prompting the authorities to suspend the internet and introduce a curfew, which has since been lifted.
The incidents left at least four police officers dead, according to the police, and at least six civilians, according to a hospital source. The police said they had carried out operations in areas where suspected perpetrators of the violence were hiding after the protests, in a statement on Sunday.
During one of these operations on August 14 in Makeni (north), Hassan Dumbuya known as Evangelist Samson, an influencer on social networks and member of the APC, was killed in an exchange of fire, according to the same source.
Former combatants from the 1991-2002 civil war shot at police officers during a street chase and a machine gun was found at the scene, the police said, adding that they had also arrested several people in Makeni and Freetown.
At least 38 minors, arrested across the country, are in custody, the interior ministry said. In an address last Friday, President Bio accused the opposition of trying to create an "insurrection" to overthrow the government.
Despite its diamond-rich soil, Sierra Leone is one of the least developed countries in the world. The former British colony and its 7.5 million inhabitants were still recovering from civil war and the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa when they were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of the war in Ukraine.