The Latest: Al-Qaida-linked group claims Ivory Coast attack
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — The Latest on the beach attack in Ivory Coast (all times local):
A group that monitors jihadist websites says that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least 14 civilians and two security forces in Ivory Coast’s Grand-Bassam beach resort town.
SITE Intelligence Group said the Islamic extremist group made the declaration in a post to its Telegram channels, calling three of the attackers “heroes” for the assault on the Grand Bassam beach resort.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara confirms that two special forces were killed in the attacks, in addition to the 14 civilians and six assailants.
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara says that 14 civilians and six assailants have been killed when the armed men attacked beachgoers and three hotels in Grand-Bassam.
Ouattara is in the town and says he is visiting the different hotels to express condolences and salute security forces for their quick responses.
A hotel owner says at least one person was killed at his hotel, and a reporter saw four dead bodies on a beach in Ivory Coast’s historic southeastern town of Grand-Bassam.
The four bodies were sprawled out on the beach next to the popular hotel Etoile du Sud after gunmen attacked beachgoers outside three hotels Sunday in Grand-Bassam. Security forces and members of the Ivorian Red Cross were clearing the bodies.
Jacques Able, who identified himself as the owner of Etoile du Sud said one person had been killed at the hotel.
Marcel Guy said he saw at least four gunmen with Kalashnikov rifles on the beach. He said one approached two children, and spoke in Arabic. One child knelt and prayed, the other was shot dead.
The government said security forces had “neutralized” at least six attackers.
President Alassane Ouattara expected to arrive at the scene.
Ivory Coast’s government says that security forces have neutralized six armed men who staged attacks on three hotels in the historic town of Grand-Bassam.
State Minister Hamed Bakayoko said in a statement posted to the government Twitter that security sweeps are underway and a toll of people killed and injured will be announced in the coming hours. He said he urges the public to remain calm.
Witnesses say bursts of gunfire have been heard in a southeastern Ivory Coast beach town about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Ivory Coast’s economic center, Abidjan.
Josiane Sekongo, 25, said shots rang out Sunday afternoon in Grand-Bassam, a popular weekend destination for Ivorians and foreigners.
Sekongo, who lives across from one of the town’s many beachfront hotels, said she ran outside when she heard the gunfire and saw people running away from the beach. She said residents were hiding in their homes as security forces responded.
It was unclear how many assailants were involved. Casualty information was not immediately available.