Sierra Leone steps up security

2010-10-22 08:49

Freetown - Sierra Leone said on Thursday it had stepped up border security ahead of presidential polls in neighbouring Guinea, sending 350 extra paramilitary personnel to the region.

Inspector-general of Police Francis Munu said the extra forces had been dispatched to the town of Samu near the border where security personnel were placed on alert.

"Though the Guinean situation is of concern, we have our security personnel at the alert," he said.

"We have also increased our routine border patrols, constantly monitoring the situation, carrying out intelligence monitoring and analysis."

Guinea is scheduled to hold a presidential run-off election on Sunday, pitting former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo against veteran opposition figure Alpha Conde.

However, preparations for the polls have been marred by protests in which two people have died and Guinea's interim government is believed to be considering delaying the vote.

Manu said Sierra Leone's National Security Committee, which co-ordinates the country's security, has put in place an emergency response plan if security breaks down in Guinea, from where refugees are already heading into Sierra Leone.

Immigration officials reached by phone at the main border crossing at Kambia told AFP that there had been increase in arrivals from Guinea over the past days

"We have been working non-stop checking identity papers and cars with Guinean registered number plates loaded with suitcases," said one official who asked not to be identified.

"Most of the occupants said they feared an eruption of violence on or after the coming elections and they don’t feel safe," she said, adding that "many of the crossers are bringing along their wives and children".