Shooting Reported At Grand-Bassam Ivory Coast Beach Resort Frequented By Tourists — REPORT
Men with machine guns opened fire in a shooting at two Grand-Bassam beach resort hotels in Côte d'Ivoire, BBC News reported. Security forces have responded to the incident, which is believed to still be underway, the West African nation's government said in a statement released Sunday. Reports of casualties have come in from multiple news agencies, but the details are still unclear.
The Ivorian government identified at least 11 victims, but did not clarify if they had been killed or injured in the attack Sunday. According to CNN, five men, five women, and one child were named as victims in a government issued statement. National security forces told reporters a total of 12 people had so far been reported dead, including four Europeans. "We don't know yet if there are others," Reuters reported an unidentified officer said in a press briefing.
According to The Guardian, two attackers entered the Hôtel Etoile du Sud, taking guests and staff there hostage. The hotel is known to be a popular choice for Westerners in Grand-Bassam, a tourist destination located some 25 miles east of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire's largest city and economic capital Abidjan. Between two and four heavily armed gunmen are reported to be involved in Sunday's shooting, local media reported.
The attackers' identity or affiliations are not yet known, and local media reports claiming witnesses reported the gunmen had shouted, "Allahu Akbar" remain unconfirmed. The region has, however, been a target of Islamic extremists before.
Two months ago, Islamic militants affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed 28 people and injured another 56 in a shooting at Splendid Hotel in neighboring Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou. In November, 27 people were killed when Islamic militants affiliated with Al Mourabitoun took an entire hotel — popular with foreign tourists — with 170 people inside hostage in Bamako, Mali's capital.
The United States Embassy in Abidjan said it had no reason to believe the gunmen were targeting U.S. citizens, nor had it confirmed any reports U.S. citizens had been injured in the shooting, in a statement released shortly after the incident began Sunday.
The West African nation has struggled to maintain peace after the Second Ivorian Civil War drove the country into political instability in 2011. U.N. and French forces intervened in April 2011, arresting Laurent Gbagbo, Côte d'Ivoire's contested President for a series of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.