At least 16 people have been killed, including four European nationals, after a group of gunmen opened fire at a popular beach resort in southeast Ivory Coast, officials and witnesses say. Al-Qaeda’s North African branch has claimed responsibility.
The attack happened on Sunday afternoon when six men with automatic weapons opened fire at a beach resort near Hotel Etoile Du Sud in Grand-Bassam, located just southeast of the country’s economic capital Abidjan.
A tour guide who witnessed the attack told France 24 television that he saw at least 4 gunmen moving slowly across the resort as they fired on people, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” A video from the area showed people running for their lives to escape the gunfire.
Ivorian Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said a total of 3 hotels, including Hotel Etoile Du Sud, were targeted by the attackers, who are believed to have arrived by boat. It is unclear whether the gunmen entered any of the hotels, though earlier reports of a hostage situation appear to have been inaccurate.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara confirmed that at least 16 people had been killed, including 14 civilians and 2 soldiers. Minister Bakayoko said 6 terrorists had also been killed and said security forces were continuing to search the area.
A statement from the office of François Hollande said at least one French citizen was among those killed, but a police source told the Reuters news agency that 3 other European nationals had also been killed, though there was no immediate word on their nationalities.
“France provides logistical and intelligence support to Ivory Coast to find the attackers. We will continue and intensify our cooperation with our partners in the fight against terrorism,” the French presidency said in a brief statement, in which Hollande expressed his condolences.
An earlier statement from the Ivorian government confirmed that at least 11 people had also been injured in the attack, including a child less than 5 years old. Five of those injured are Ivorian citizens but the nationalities of the others were not yet known, it said.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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