Coup supporters flood into Freetown
Wednesday 28 May 1997
Mutinous troops ousted President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's civilian government in a bloody coup Sunday - the third in five years - battling Nigerian troops who had been stationed in Freetown to fend off just such an attack.
To bolster its defences against the mutineers, Nigeria sent two boatloads of troops to the port yesterday after Sierra Leone appealed to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) - a regional military and economic bloc - to restore order.
More than 20 people have died in the capital since mutinous soldiers staged a prison break on Sunday, freeing nine soldiers jailed on suspicion of trying to plot a coup last year. One of them, Major Johnny Paul Koroma, has since declared himself in control of the government.
Major Koroma blamed Mr Kabbah for the recent collapse of a ceasefire with the rebel Revolutionary United Front, which waged a five-year war against the government, and he invited RUF leader Foday Sankoh to join him in running the country.
That could be difficult. Mr Sankoh is being held prisoner in a luxury hotel room in the Nigerian capital of Abuja following his arrest there on gun-running charges in March.
But hundreds of Mr Sankoh's followers appeared to heed Major Koroma's call, pouring into the capital yesterday, toting machine guns and asking directions to the military barracks.
Residents who had been foraging for food fled to their homes at midday when they heard rumours another battle between the Nigerians and mutineers was looming.
Two Lebanese nationals have been shot dead by armed looters who have ransacked homes, shops and aid agencies. The World Food Programme said looters stole 1,650 tons of food and 15 vehicles.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it would evacuate 21 of its 26 staff in the capital. Several had been robbed by soldiers at gunpoint.
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
- 2 Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta clashes with President Obama on LGBT equality: ‘Gay rights is really a non-issue’
- 3 Ralkina Jones: 37-year-old black woman found dead in police custody
- 4 Kanye West praises Caitlyn Jenner on I Am Cait: 'You couldn't have been up against more'
- 5 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
Mystery over deaths of 3,000 Napoleonic soldiers in mass grave has been solved
Global Peace Index: Ukraine tops list of countries with the worst relations with neighbours
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, 71, still enjoys 'an early morning joint' for breakfast
Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...
Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...