Fourteen Sierra Leonean soldiers, three current and former police officers and two civilians have been arrested and are under investigation for “subversion”, while a manhunt is underway for eight others, the inspector general said Tuesday.
Last week police said they had arrested several people who were planning violent attacks on the anniversary of fatal riots in August 2022 that left more than 30 dead.
They said they were “w orking to undermine the peace and tranquillity of the state” and planning to use peaceful protests scheduled for this week “as a guise to unleash violent attacks against state institutions and peaceful citizens.”
Of the 14 arrested members of the armed forces, eight are ranked between lieutenant and major, while six are non-commissioned officers ranking between private and sergeant, inspector general William Fayia Sellu said in a press conference on Tuesday.
He said a manhunt was underway for five more military personnel and three police officers.
“We are in full control and security has been beefed up,” Fayia Sellu said.
“The police has stepped up security and intelligence across the country”.
The inspector general added that Sierra Leone had appealed to Interpol to help extradite any of the suspects found abroad.
On Monday, Liberia’s information minister Ledgerhood Rennie told AFP that Mohammed Yaetey Turay, a former chief superintendent of police dismissed in 2020, had been arrested in that country at the request of Sierra Leonean authorities.
Sierra Leone’s information minister Chernor Bah confirmed to AFP that Turay’s arrest was in connection “with plans the state security had unearthed by some individuals to undermine the peace of the state and unleash violence on our citizens”.
“He’s among those helping with the investigations”, the minister said.
On August 10 last year, economic and political protests in the capital Freetown and other cities spiralled into deadly clashes.
Twenty-seven civilians and six police officers died, according to official figures.