(Bloomberg) -- Police in Sierra Leone’s capital lifted a curfew Saturday after protests against rising living costs in the West African nation turned deadly this week. 

The government imposed a nationwide curfew after long-simmering grievances over rising food prices led to clashes between protesters and police. At least 16 civilians were killed and many more were injured in the capital Freetown and the city of Makeni in central Sierra Leone. At least four police officers were killed, according to a separate statement.

Inflation in Sierra Leone reached 28% in June, up from 25% in May. Last month, the central bank removed three zeros from bank notes, hoping to restore confidence in the currency.

Sierra Leone Hikes by 100 Basis Points to 16%: Map

Protests erupted Wednesday after weeks of frustration over rising food and fertilizer prices and a recent crackdown on dissent, Accra-based Songhai Advisory said in a note.

But in a televised address on Friday, President Julius Maada Bio blamed the opposition for instigating the violence. 

“This was not a protest against the high cost of living occasioned by the ongoing global economic crisis,” Maada Bio said. “The chant of the insurrectionists was for a violent overthrow of the democratically-elected government.”

Security would be reinforced to protect civilians and those responsible for Wednesday’s deaths would be held accountable, Maada Bio said.

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