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Terror Attack at Beach Resort Shocks Ivorians

  • VOA Staff

A body lays on the beach were gunmen attacked people in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016.

A body lays on the beach were gunmen attacked people in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016.

In Ivory Coast, Sunday's deadly attack on beachgoers outside the commercial capital, Abidjan, was the country's first real brush with terrorism.

The attack killed 14 civilians and left 22 wounded. The government said two soldiers were also killed, as well as six attackers.

On Monday, there is the usual hustle and bustle on the streets of Abidjan, but the day is far from normal.

Abidjan resident Yoan Gueï said fear from the attack "has set in, and it’s big.”

"We are scared that maybe they [terrorists] could come to Abidjan," Gueï said.

Heavily armed gunmen opened fire Sunday at a popular Ivory Coast beach resort in Grand-Bassam, March 13, 2016. There was no official report on casualties, but witnesses told VOA they saw between five and 10 shooting victims.

Heavily armed gunmen opened fire Sunday at a popular Ivory Coast beach resort in Grand-Bassam, March 13, 2016. There was no official report on casualties, but witnesses told VOA they saw between five and 10 shooting victims.

One local headline calls Sunday's shooting a “bloodbath.” Another simply reads “We are all Grand-Bassam.” The seaside town is just 50 kilometers outside Abidjan.

Militant sect AQIM claimed the attack in a short message sent to a local Sahelian news site.

For over a decade, AQIM has primarily operated farther north in the Sahara desert. But West Africa has been on alert following recent attacks on upscale hotels in Bamako, Mali, and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The beach resorts of Grand-Bassam are a popular relaxation spot for both expatriates and locals.

Abidjan resident Hugues Kouamé said the terror group is not just targeting Westerners anymore. He said everyone is being targeted and it concerns him.

Of the 14 civilians killed, only two have been confirmed so far to have been non-Ivorian.

For many in Abidjan, the attack came as a shock but not exactly a surprise.

Local resident Adama Koné said the attack is not surprising given the political and economic importance of Ivory Coast in the region. He said such an incident was going to happen at some point.

Street trader Roland Guina said more security is needed to prevent future terror incidents.

Despite the fear, local resident Stéphane Tanoh said he will not change his lifestyle. He said he would live with the risks and continue to go to places where there are a lot of people.

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