Twenty killed in Sierra Leone attack and nearly 2,000 prisoners escape

Twenty people were killed and nearly 2,000 inmates escaped during Sunday’s attack on a military barracks, a prison and other locations in Sierra Leone, officials said on Monday.

The West African country was thrown into panic in the early hours when the assailants sent gunfire ringing across the capital Freetown. The government blamed “renegade soldiers” that it said had been repelled.

Army spokesman Colonel Issa Bangura told Reuters that the 20 dead included 13 soldiers, three assailants, a police officer, a civilian and someone working in private security. Eight people were wounded and three arrested, he said.

Some 1,890 inmates escaped from the Pademba Road central prison after the attackers broke in, according to a situation report that prison officials shared with Reuters on Monday. So far, 23 have returned, it said.

In a two-hour raid, the assailants rammed open the main gate with a vehicle after gunfire and a rocket launcher failed to breach prison defenses, said Colonel Shek Sulaiman Massaquoi, the acting director general of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service.