Mourners look on at clothes left on the beach after yesterday’s shooting
‘Eye-witness said two boys were forced to kneel on the ground and ordered to say a Muslim verse before the child who recited a prayer was spared’
A five-year-old victim of a terror attack in the Ivory Coast was shot dead after being unable to recite a Muslim prayer
Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack that left 16 people dead at a popular beach in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast, yesterday.
Four Europeans and the five-year-old victim were among those slaughtered on the sand near the L’Etoile du Sud hotel – which is popular with Western tourists.
Eye-witness Marcel Guy said the boy was shot dead after being approached by one gunman who approached two children and forced them to kneel on the ground.
After he ordered them to recite a Muslim prayer, he reportedly spared the boy who did so successfully and shot the young boy at point blank range.
Ivorian soldiers patrolling the scene of yesterday’s carnage
Fourteen civilians and two special forces soldiers were shot by gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing balaclavas. The North African branch of Al-Qaeda posted a statement online claiming it was behind the deadly assault on Sunday.
“In a message posted on its Telegram channels on March 13, 2016, the group reported that three ‘heroes’ from its group were able to storm the resort,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online communications by militant groups.
President Alassane Ouattara confirmed at least 16 people were shot dead by six gunmen at the weekend retreat, said to be favoured by Westerners, during a visit to the site.
The Côte d’Ivoire leader said: “Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon… We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed.”
He added that the six attackers, who are yet to be identified, were also killed.
Some witnesses said the gunmen were shouting “Alluha Akbar”, which translates to “God is greatest”, during the rampage.
State minister Hamed Bakayoko said security checks are under way and a toll of people killed and injured will be announced in the coming hours.
He has urged the public to remain calm after the incident in the south-eastern beach resort, about 25 miles east of Ivory Coast’s economic centre, Abidjan.
Dramatic footage showed people running away from the beach to sound of gunfire in the background.
Graphic images of dead bodies have also been shared on social media while others showed locals looking at what appeared to be body armour and grenades left in the street.
According to one witness “the gunshots came from a boat in front of the beach”.
Another Dramane Kima said: “I saw seven dead that I filmed. There were four attackers.
“I was swimming when it started and I ran away.”
Witness Josiane Sekongo, 25, said shots rang out in the town, a popular weekend destination for Ivorians and foreigners
Ms Sekongo, who lives across from one of Grand-Bassam’s many beachfront hotels, said she ran outside when she heard the gunfire and saw people running away from the beach. She said residents were hiding in their homes as security forces responded.
The beach was evacuated amid reports another of a hostage situation at another location.
Grand-Bassam is around 40km from Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. The former French colony which still has strong ties with France.
Grand-Bassam is a beach resort popular with ex-pats and Ivorians who work for French companies. The atrocity follows similar gun attacks on hotels in Mali and Burkina Faso in recent months.