At least 16 people, including a five-year-old boy and four Europeans, were murdered when heavily-armed Islamist terrorists went on the rampage at three luxury hotels Sunday, March 13, 2016. One of the victims was reported to be an English-speaking woman.
Terrified beachgoers, caught up in the carnage, were filmed screaming and running for safety as up to six gunmen wearing balaclavas sprayed bullets indiscriminately while shouting “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great”.
Witnesses said the attackers, wielding Kalashnikov assault rifles and hand grenades, shot “anyone they could find” as they brought bloodshed to the packed beachfront of Grand-Bassam, a UNESCO world heritage site.
In London, the Foreign Office said officials were “urgently” trying to establish whether any Britons had been caught up in the attack.
In a sickening new low, the extremists, described as African and wearing casual clothes, nonchalantly slaughtered an innocent child as he pleaded for his life.
A witness said: “They killed a child despite him kneeling down and begging. They shot a woman in the chest. I heard them shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. They’ve killed innocent people.”
People examine clothes left on the beach on March 14, 2016 in Grand-Bassam, a day after gunmen attacked the Ivory Coast resort town, killing 14 civilians and two soldiers, AFP said.
Belgian Yves Losseau was on the Grand-Bassam beach, 40km east of the capital Abidjan when the gunmen struck at lunchtime.
He said: “We tried to take refuge in the hotel building. Then I saw one of the attackers approach the hotel garden and I saw him shot dead a European woman.”
“Then I saw another young man running towards the hotel who was also shot, but he kept moving afterwards so he was still alive. After the attacker shot the woman, he walked away calmly.” It was reported that the gunmen arrived by fishing boat and their attack lasted three hours.
Terror group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara confirmed 14 civilians and two members of Ivory Coast’s Special Forces had been killed. Six terrorists had also been “neutralized”.
French president, François Hollande, denounced the “cowardly attack” in the former colony as he revealed at least one French national had been killed. The attack is the third on West African hotels – popular with Westerners – in five months.
In November, the Radisson Blu in Mali’s capital, Bamako, was targeted by AQIM in an attack that left 20 dead, then in January gunmen entered the Hotel Splendid and nearby Cappuccino Café in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, killing 30.
The latest attack also bore similarities to an attack by Islamic State in June last year on the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, which claimed 38 lives, including British tourists.