Sierra Leonean authorities say that Sunday's attacks on several locations in the capital, Freetown, were part of a failed coup attempt.
Efforts to overthrow the government were led mostly by bodyguards of former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, according to Information Minister Chernor Bah and the Chief of Defense Staff Lieutenant General Patrick Lavahun, who addressed reporters at a Tuesday news conference.
Officials said that the former president could not be connected to the attack directly, but that investigations are ongoing.
"The incident was a failed attempted coup. The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government," Bah said. "The attempt failed, and plenty of the leaders are either in police custody or on the run. We will try to capture them and bring them to the full force of the laws of Sierra Leone."
According to officials, attackers targeted the central prison and several police stations Sunday, freeing about 2,200 detainees and killing over 20 people. Thirteen military officers and a civilian have been arrested following the incidents, with an additional two dozen people, including five army majors and two captains, being placed on a wanted list.
Sierra Leone's main opposition, the All People Congress, along with former president Koroma, condemned the attacks. Koroma said a security guard assigned to protect him was killed during Sunday’s incident.
The attacks killed 21 people, including 14 soldiers and three attackers, according to Bah.
Unrest in Sierra Leone comes after a series of military coups have dealt blows to democracy in the region since a 1991-2002 civil war killed more than 50,000 people.
Tension rose anew when President Julius Maada Bio was elected in June, a result that has been questioned by the United States and European Union and rejected by Sierra Leone’s main opposition candidate.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.