UPDATED 4:41 p.m. EDT — No U.S. citizens were killed in an attack on several resorts in the Ivory Coast Sunday, an anonymous source from the State Department told Reuters. The terror group known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack that left 16 dead, including 14 civilians and two special forces members.
The terror group has carried out other attacks in the region, including a similar assault on a hotel and cafe popular with foreigners in Burkina Faso, during which 28 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in January.
UPDATED 3:15 p.m. EDT — Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara confirmed that 14 civilians, two special forces and six assailants were killed during an attack on several resorts in the southeastern region of the country Sunday, Associated Press reported. The six armed men attacked at least three hotels as well as beachgoers in the town of Grand Bassam, and security forces neutralized the attackers by around 6 p.m. local time, according to the same report.
UPDATED 1:34 p.m. EDT — At least 12 people died after several armed attackers stormed a resort in the Ivory Coast Sunday, a national police officer told journalists at a briefing, Reuters reported. At least four of the victims were Europeans, he said, and the investigation into who carried out the assault on the beach hotel was ongoing.
Gunmen killed at least seven people in an attack on a hotel popular with foreigners in the Ivory Coast, Reuters reported Sunday, citing eyewitnesses. The hotel is situated in the beach town of Grand Bassam, about 25 miles from the city of Abidjan, in the southeastern coast of the country.
"The shots took us by surprise and now we are staying holed up," one witness told Agence-France Presse, noting that there had been casualties though he was not sure how many. Hotel guests began fleeing the beach as gunmen opened fire on the resort in Grand Bassam, a former French colonial capital.
Between two and four attackers stormed the L’Etoile du Sud, or “Southern Star” hotel, Sunday, taking hotel workers and guests hostage. Security officials have been dispatched, and the situation was ongoing, according to reports.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 13, 2016
It was not yet clear whether the gunmen, who were wearing balaclavas according to witnesses, were affiliated with any terror group. The incident in the Ivory Coast came just two months after an attack on a hotel and cafe in the city of Ouagadougou in neighboring Burkina Faso in which terrorists targeted Westerners. Four attackers died in the assaults after killing 28 people and wounding at least 56, according to the BBC. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Violent extremism and terrorist activities remain a major threat to security and development in West Africa, further aggravating the region's humanitarian challenges,” Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the Security Council in January. “It is also crucial for countries of West and Central Africa to also work on developing strategies that address the root causes of the insurgency, and notably the underlying socioeconomic grievances of marginalized communities,” Chambas added.