The officers, six men and two women, were “brutalized” and killed in the area where the protests were taking place on Wednesday, Youth Minister Mohamed Orman Bangura said.
The protests turned violent at times. Illustrative images and videos of ill-treated and seriously injured protesters and some members of the security forces were shared on social media. Security forces were also seen firing guns at citizens.
Bangura said he could not immediately confirm the number of civilians killed or injured in the violent demonstrations.
“We don’t yet know how many people were injured, but I can confirm that eight police officers were killed.”
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh imposed a curfew on Wednesday to quell the protests.
Youth Minister Bangura described the protests as an “act of terrorism”.
“These are not protesters. There is a difference between protest and riot and acts of terrorism. Protesting is different than acting as a terrorist…going against the state and killing young police officers,” he said.
“The police have made some arrests,” the minister told CNN, while accusing the country’s opposition of funding the protests.
“This was well planned, calculated and funded by members of the opposition All People’s Congress. Opposition members paid young people to take to the streets to take over government,” said Bangura, a member of Sierra Leone’s ruling People’s Party.
“If the protest is about the cost of living, why isn’t it taking place in all of the current government’s strongholds? Why does Makeni happen to be the headquarters of the opposition? Why isn’t it a nationwide protest? Why do they (the opposition) hold only three districts as their stronghold out of 16 districts?” he asked.
CNN has reached out to opposition party APC for comment but has yet to receive a response.
However, Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, who is a leading politician of the main opposition party APC, has denounced the violence.
The mayor added that she prayed with the steering committee of religious leaders for peace and national unity in Sierra Leone.
“Today in our city…my heart goes out to all who have lost their lives and loved ones…those who have lost property across the city. We are all brothers and sisters… I believe completely in peace and I stand against violence,” she said in the local Creole dialect.