Breaking News: Multiple gunmen wearing balaclavas and armed with machine guns began shooting at guests on the beach at the Southern Star (L’Etoile du Sud) in Grand Bassam, located in the southern portion of Ivory Coast, Sunday afternoon, March 13, 2016, killing at least 12 people.
At least four Europeans are among the dead in a town about 25 miles east of Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, according to . The nation’s security forces rushed to Grand Bassam and have “neutralized six terrorists,” said Ivory Coast Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko in a broadcast on state television there, “Three hotels in Grand Bassam were attacked this Sunday by armed men. Security and defense forces intervened immediately and were able to neutralize six terrorists. The clean-up operation is under way.”
The attack, for which no group has yet claimed responsibility, has been labeled an act of terrorism, the first terrorist attack reported in Ivory Coast since 2011.
Update 3/13/2016 8:30 p.m.: The six gunmen identified earlier today as the terrorists responsible for the armed attack on civilians in Grand Bassam and were subsequently killed by Ivory Coast security and defense forces were members of a North African branch of al Qaeda.
The original report cited the death of 12 people as a result of the terrorist attack. A more current report reveals that 16 people were killed; 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers. Four Europeans were among the civilians killed in the Grand Bassam attack that took place among three hotels. Ivory Coast Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said that citizens from Berkina Faso, Cameroon, France, Germany and Mali were among those killed.
Witnesses at the scene said the gunmen followed a path to the beach where they opened fire before then shooting at people at the hotels. Witness Marie Bassole said, “They started shooting and everyone just started running. There were women and children running and hiding. It started on the beach. Whoever they saw, they shot at.”
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