Churches Remain Closed in Sierra Leone amid Sunday Curfew and Fears of Brewing Coup

A poster announcing a curfew in Sierra Leone after unidentified individuals broke into the military barracks in the country's capital Freetown

Gloom swept across the entire nation of Sierra Leone on Sunday, November 26 as Churches and other worship centres remained closed following a curfew directive that was issued by the government in response to a security breach that was witnessed in the West African country.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio confirmed in a televised national address that “some individuals” had attacked the military barracks in the country’s capital Freetown and released some prisoners.

“In the early hours this morning, there was a breach of security at the military barracks at Wilberforce in Freetown,” President Bio said in the Sunday, November 26 address at 8 p.m. Sierra Leonean time.

“Some individuals attacked the military armory and other locations in Freetown, including the Pandema Road correctional centre. In the event, prisoners escaped,” he said, and added that the attackers had been repelled.

A Spiritan priest expressed fears over a possible coup in the country, and asked for prayers for the country.


“There is an attempt to overthrow the sitting government. We have a state of emergency in the country,” the priest said in a WhatsApp message on Sunday, November 26, and added, “There were no Masses anywhere in the country today. Please keep Sierra Leone in your prayers.”

Moments after the Sunday attack, the Sierra Leonean government declared a nationwide curfew, advising the citizens to stay at home.

ACI Africa received reports of sporadic gunfire and the general atmosphere of unrest in Freetown, even as the government said it had arrested the Sunday morning security breach in the city.

Speaking to ACI Africa from the relatively calm Bo city which is 108 miles south-east of Freetown, Fr. Peter Konteh, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown said that he had received news of cancellation of an event he was scheduled to attend before the nationwide curfew was imposed.

“Greetings from Bo, where we are surrounded by safety and warmth,” Fr. Konteh said in his message he sent to ACI Africa.

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The member of Clergy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown said, “This morning brought the unfortunate news of security issues in Freetown. We hope for a swift resolution to the situation, and we remain optimistic that normalcy will be restored as soon as possible.”

On Monday, November 27, Fr. Konteh told ACI Africa that he was waiting for the greenlight to travel back to Freetown. “I am trying to get verified assurance that it is safe on the way before I set out,” he said.

The Sierra Leonean government updated its directive on an indefinite curfew on Monday, advising the citizens to instead adhere to a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew hours.

The new curfew hours, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah said, “will be in effect until further notice.”

Mr. Bah also urged Sierra Leoneans “to remain calm but vigilant” and “to report any suspicious or unusual activity to the nearest police station.”


There has been a reported rise in military coups in West Africa, with latest incidents having been reported in Burkina Faso, in Niger and in Sierra Leone’s neighbour Guinea.

In August, a number of soldiers in Sierra Leone were arrested and accused of plotting to overthrow President Bio.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.