ICC NOTE: Islamist terrorists stormed an Ivory Coast hotel screaming Islamic quotes and spraying bullets across the sand. Security forces arrived later during the attack where two soldiers were shot dead by the terrorists. Hotels have become a favored target of al-Qaeda and her affiliates as a popular U.S. owned hotel was attacked in Mali where many were killed and taken hostage. Burkina Faso experienced a similar attack on one of their hotels where Christian missionaries were among the dead. The Ivory Coast, like many African nations, has continued the process of picking up the pieces from a bloody civil war. Sunday’s attack merely reminds them of how violent and frightening the war was for the people. The attack once again reminds the world al-Qaeda has not disappeared and they still remain a threat, especially to Africa.
3/14/2016 Ivory Coast (Washington Post) – Grand-Bassam’s beaches were busy Sunday afternoon. Soaring temperatures had driven people from across the Ivory Coast to the city’s oceanfront resorts. Tourists and locals alike dove in the sea and lounged on the sand.
For al-Qaeda, it was an opportune moment to attack.
Six figures in black appeared on the beach. They wore balaclavas. They carried guns. They opened fire.
Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades, the attackers marched across the sand, sowing death. They shot men, women and children. They shot Ivorians and foreigners. When security forces arrived, the gunmen killed two of them as well.
“They killed a child, despite him kneeling down and begging,” one witness said, according to the BBC. “They shot a woman in the chest. I swear, I heard them shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great]. They’ve killed innocent people.”
The killing only came to a halt when security forces fatally shot the six assailants.
The final tally: 22 dead, including the six gunmen, two soldiers and 14 civilians.
Among the dead civilians were four Westerners, including a French and a German national, according to the BBC. The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan said it had no evidence U.S. citizens were targeted or harmed, according to the Associated Press.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors radical Islamist websites.
Grand-Bassam is a historic city that was the country’s first capital. It lies about 25 miles east of the present-day capital of Abidjan.
President Alassane Ouattara visited the shell-shocked city Sunday evening to express his condolences and praise the country’s security forces.
“These cowardly terrorist attacks will not be tolerated in the Ivory Coast,” he said, according to the BBC. “We have taken important measures. These attacks were brought under control in three or four hours thanks to our security and defense forces.”