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Calm returned to Sierra Leone Thursday a day after an economic protest spiralled into violence the authorities said killed four police officers, and a hospital source said claimed the lives of six protestors.
Police and troops patrolled the streets of the capital Freetown, and some shops in the city's central business district had reopened, an AFP reporter saw.
What began Wednesday as a peaceful assembly by market women to draw attention to "economic hardship" descended into clashes between security forces and young men demanding the president resign.
Four police officers were killed in Freetown, the town of Kamakwie in the North West Province and the city of Makeni in the Northern Province, according to a police statement, revising an earlier toll of two dead.
Several police stations were burnt down and vandalised around the country, it said.
At least six protesters also died, according to a morgue technician at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown. Local media have reported that seven protesters lost their lives.
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The police statement said 113 "suspects" had been arrested in the North West and North East provinces.
A curfew imposed on Wednesday would continue from Thursday between 7:00 pm and 7:00 am, the police said, without specifying an end date for the measure.
The government also announced it had put in place "mechanisms" to monitor social media and warned the public against spreading "incendiary" information "to destabilise the state".
President Julius Maada Bio, who had been in Britain on a private visit, returned ahead of schedule on Wednesday night, according to presidency spokesman Tanu Jalloh.
"As a government, we have the responsibility to protect every citizen of Sierra Leone", the president said on Twitter, describing the events as "unfortunate" and promising an investigation.
"I urge all Sierra Leoneans to be calm", he added.
The United Nations, European Union, Britain and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have all condemned Wednesday's violence.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged the government to hold "prompt, impartial and thorough investigations... and bring those responsible to account regardless of their status and political affiliation".
"I urge all sides to embrace dialogue", she said.
Sierra Leone has had a reputation for relative stability since the end of a civil war that ran from 1991 to 2002.
Its population of eight million people live in one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking 182 out of 189 countries in the UN's Human Development Index, a benchmark of prosperity.
The economy, heavily dependent on minerals, was devastated by the civil war that left about 120,000 dead.
Efforts at rebuilding were set back by an Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016, a fall in world commodity prices and the coronavirus pandemic -- all of which have disrupted trade and investment and hit exports.
In July, the country slashed three zeros off its currency in a bid to restore confidence in the inflation-hit leone.
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