Anti-government protesters in Sierra Leone have clashed with police in the streets of the capital, Freetown, as tensions over the rising cost of living turned deadly in the West African nation.

In a national broadcast, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said that “lives of both policemen and civilians were lost”, without giving further details. He announced a nationwide curfew from 3pm local time (15:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

On Thursday, police inspector general William Fayia Sellu said six police officers had been killed. The death toll for protesters was not immediately available.

Demonstrators demanded the departure of President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and still has 10 months left in his term. They chanted “Bio must go” as they made their way through the capital, Freetown.

Videos on social media showed large crowds of protesters and piles of burning tyres in eastern Freetown. Other footage showed a group of young men throwing rocks on a street filled with whitish smoke and another group attacking a man on the ground.

“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and unauthorised protest which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” Vice President Jalloh said on Wednesday, without providing numbers of the dead.

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