Police Arrest 16 men in attempted coup
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) _ Security forces on Monday announced the arrest of 16 people following what Parliament called an attempt to overthrow the government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh.
A security force member was killed in a gun battle Sunday, but Momoh’s government has avoided referring to it as a coup attempt.
Police reported Monday morning that among the 16 suspects arrested was an assistant superintendent of police, Mohammed Kaikai, and they said a cache of weapons was seized in a raid Sunday night on Kaikai’s house.
Parliament passed a unanimous resolution condemning ″an attempt to overthrow″ the government.
A statement issued Monday by Momoh’s press secretary said:
″The government would like to inform the general public about a grave and tragic incident which took place in Freetown last night, involving some citizens of this country.
″Working on intelligence reports, members of the armed forces moved to No. 42 Waterloo Street last night and arriving at the scene, they were immediately attacked by gun shots from the said premises during which a member of the Special Security Division was shot dead.
″Later, the security forces were able to overcome the attackers and gained access to the premises where they discovered a large quanity of arms and ammunitions which have since been retrieved.″
The statement said an investigation was under way and the situation was under control.
Reporters in Freetown said a large police contingent guarded the Kaikai house on Waterloo Street where the arrested men were being held, and patrols continued in front of the homes of all of the suspects. The rest of the capital appeared normal.
Police said Kaikai’s brother also was arrested, but he was not identified nor were the other suspects.
Kaikai had served as head of the west African nation’s anti-smuggling unit until he was demoted last year, according to Assistant Police Commissioner Alfred Dumbuya.
He said rocket launchers, mortars, submachine guns and camouflage uniforms were seized in the raid.
Witnesses reported a number of men wearing civilian clothes also were seen in handcuffs in Kaikai’s residence.