Sierra Leone curfew reschedules air travel

Sierra Leone’s civil aviation authority on Sunday urged airlines reschedule flights after a nationwide curfew imposed by the government in response to an attack on a military barracks by unidentified gunmen.

The aviation authority said in a statement that passengers should be placed on the next available flights after the curfew is lifted. It added that the country’s airspace remains open.

Sierra Leone, an English-speaking country in West Africa, has been going through a political crisis following presidential and general elections in June this year.

Witnesses told AFP they heard gunshots and explosions in the city’s Wilberforce district, where the armoury and some embassies are located.

Other witnesses reported exchanges of fire near a barracks in Murray Town d istrict, home to the navy, and outside another military site in Freetown.

The information ministry said “the government remains in control and on top of the situation” after reporting attacks on prisons earlier in the day that obliged the security forces to retreat.

“The prisons were thus overrun” with some detainees released and others “abducted”, it said.

Video posted on social networks suggested numerous prisoners had escaped from the central jail.

One man who was in a group filmed on the street by an AFP correspondent said they had escaped from the prison.

The information ministry said security forces had pushed the attackers to the outskirts of the capital, with clashes ongoing in the Jui area.

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