Terrorists have attacked a popular Ivory Coast beach resort, killing locals and tourists. The latest attack has added to the string of high-profile assaults in North and West Africa.
Heavily armed gunmen killed at least 16 people at the Grand-Bassam beach resort town on Sunday. The terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence group.
"Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon," Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said at the site. "We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed."
Ivory Coast's Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko added that foreign citizens from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon were among the victims.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed there had been a German fatality.
The attackers targeted hotels and people at the beach resort, a popular retreat for locals and foreigners that sits some 40 kilometers (24 miles) east of the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Witnesses at the scene said gunmen opened fire on swimmers and sunbathers, and then directed their attention towards the busy seafront where people were eating and drinking during lunchtime.
"They started shooting and everyone just started running. There were women and children running and hiding," said a witness at the scene.
The recent attack has added concern that jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda would continue to strike targets frequented by foreign tourists.
smm/jm (AFP, Reuters)