Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack that left 16 people dead at a popular beach in Ivory Coast today. Fourteen civilians and two special forces soldiers were shot by gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing balaclavas. Four Europeans, including a French national, and a five-year-old child were reportedly among those slaughtered on the sand bordering three hotels in the coastal city Grand-Bassam. The North African branch of the terrorist organisation posted a statement online claiming it was behind the deadly assault on Sunday.
“In a message posted on its Telegram channels on March 13, 2016, the group reported that three `heroes’ from its group were able to storm the resort,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online communications by militant groups.
President Alassane Ouattara confirmed that at least 16 people were shot dead by six gunmen at the weekend retreat, said to be favoured by Westerners, during a visit to the site.
The Côte d’Ivoire leader said: “Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon… We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed.”
He added that the six attackers, who are yet to be identified, were also killed.
Some witnesses said the gunmen were shouting “Alluha Akbar”, which translates to “God is greatest”, during the rampage.
State minister Hamed Bakayoko said security checks are under way and a toll of people killed and injured will be announced in the coming hours.
He has urged the public to remain calm after the incident in the south-eastern beach resort, about 25 miles east of Ivory Coast’s economic centre, Abidjan.
Dramatic footage showed people running away from the beach to sound of gunfire in the background.