Digital Resource World News – Top Stories – Urandir News-
- Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claims responsibility for the attacks
- Sixteen people were killed, including 14 civilians, Ivory Coast’s President says
- Attack occurred shortly after midday near a busy beach popular with wealthy Ivorians and westerners
(CNN)The U.S. and France have pledged assistance to the Ivory Coast as the West African nation investigates a fatal shooting that left at least 16 people dead.
Gunmen stormed three hotels in the beach resort city of Grand-Bassam Sunday, killing 16, officials said. At least one French national was murdered in the attack.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement posted on a social media account tied to the group.
The death toll included 14 civilians and two soldiers, President Alassane Ouattara said as he visited the site of the attacks. Six attackers also died, he said.
Popular weekend spot targeted
The attack began shortly after midday when the beach at Grand-Bassam — about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the country’s largest city, Abidjan — reportedly was packed with people swimming, relaxing and eating at beachside cafes. The area is extremely popular with wealthy Ivorians and westerners, particularly on Sundays.
Eyewitnesses told CNN they heard sustained gunfire for about 15 minutes and saw people running away from the three hotels screaming.
“Truly, truly it was terrifying,” one woman said. “We never thought it could happen here under these circumstances. It’s truly not easy. It’s not easy.”
A photo posted by Twitter user @lopezdobe showed ammunition magazines and grenades on the ground near the scene.
#Urgent : Attaques sur une plage a #Bassam à 40 km d’#Abidjan. équipements oublié sur place par les terroristes. pic.twitter.com/ymTUIzz5yA
— Lopez Dobe (@lopezdobe) March 13, 2016
The U.N. joined the U.S. and French governments in denouncing the incident.
French President Francois Hollande said that at least one French citizen was killed in the “cowardly attack.”
The White House also condemned it “in the strongest terms,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.
Both countries have pledged their support to the Ivorian government to find out who was responsible.
The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan reported that it had no evidence that U.S. citizens were targeted or harmed.
The French Embassy said it had set up a crisis unit and asked people to limit travel in the area and stay clear of security forces. The British Foreign Office had similar advice.
Al Qaeda offshoot was behind other hotel attacks
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has targeted hotels in West Africa before.
In the past year, the group claimed credit for hotel attacks in two countries bordering Ivory Coast — Mali and Burkina Faso.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda’s North African offshoot known as AQIM, has its roots in Algeria.
Who are Africa’s most dangerous terror groups?
After a downturn in its activities, the al Qaeda affiliate has been stepping up attacks.
“AQIM has escalated its operations in West Africa, specifically targeting Europeans, as well as other foreigners, in hotels and resorts,” the SITE Intelligence Group said in a statement analyzing the attack Sunday.
But targeting Westerners isn’t the only goal, according to SITE, which tracks jihadist groups.
“AQIM is also competing with ISIS for reassertion and dominance in West Africa, among other regions,” SITE said.
READ MORE: ‘Sham democracy’ is fueling Africa’s terrorism
CNN’s Jennifer Deaton and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.
digital resource wold news – Top Stories – Urandir Notícias
sources: original article from cnn.com and abc.com top stories