At least four protesters were killed in Makeni on Saturday, July 18, after security forces opened fire. A further 10 people were injured. Hundreds had gathered in the town, demonstrating against the relocation of a power generator to Freetown International Airport (FNA). Authorities initially fired warning shots after protesters began throwing rocks, but, when that failed to disperse the demonstrators, security forces shot into the crowd. A nighttime curfew was reportedly imposed on the town to avoid further violence.
Further protests in Makeni are likely in the near term. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions to travel are to be expected.
Power outages are a common occurrence in Sierra Leone, with the country's energy infrastructure unable to cater to its seven million inhabitants. Protests over the issue occur frequently.
Individuals in Makeni, and Sierra Leone more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all public demonstrations as precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, and anticipate a heightened security presence and transportation disruptions.
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