UPDATE: Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack on the resort of Grand Bassam, east of Abidjan, which left 16 people dead on Sunday, according to SITE, a US organization that monitors Islamist websites.
According to SITE, AQIM praised its “three heroes” who carried out the attack and promised more details later. The attack, the first of its kind in Ivory Coast, reminiscent of another at a hotel in Sousse, Tunisia that killed 38 on June 26.
The assailants, heavily armed and wearing balaclavas, fired at patrons of The Southern Star, a large hotel popular at this time of year, according to a witness.
Being an historic city and former Ivorian capital along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, Grand-Bassam houses several hotels frequented by expatriates.
2013HRS: Fourteen civilians and two soldiers were killed on Sunday when gunmen attacked the Ivory Coast resort town of Grand-Bassam, President Alassane Ouattara said.
“Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon. We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed,” Ouattara said during a visit to the site. The six attackers were also killed, he said.
Ivory Coast’s Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko earlier said ‘six terrorists neutralized’ after resort attack.
Communiqué du gouvernement suite à l'attaque survenu ce Dimanche 13 Mars 2016 à Grand-Bassam lu par le Ministre… https://t.co/PcVvug4zie— Hamed Bakayoko (@HamedBakayoko) March 13, 2016
“Three hotels were attacked by armed men” in the former colonial capital which is popular with Ivorians and Westerners.
“Ivorian security forces intervened immediately and were able to neutralize six terrorists,” he said.
AJE News (@AJENews) March 13, 2016
“Three hotels in Grand Bassam were attacked this Sunday by armed men. Security and defence forces intervened immediately and were able to neutralise six terrorists. The clean-up operation is under way,” he said on state television.
Earlier reports indicated that four Europeans were among the 12 dead.
“For the moment, we have a total of 12 dead, including four Europeans … We don’t know yet if there are others. We are doing clean-up operations right now,” the officer told security forces during a briefing attended by a Reuters reporter.