Ivory Coast steps up security after attack

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Ivory Coast’s government has said security in schools, hotels and on borders will be stepped up after Islamist militants killed at least 18 people on Sunday.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was behind the gun attack on Grand Bassam beach.

The resort is popular with locals and foreigners. French and German nationals were among the dead, officials say.

It is the first jihadist attack in Ivory Coast.

A total of 21 people died in the attack, officials said on Monday.

At least four were foreigners, three were from the security forces and three were attackers.

President Alassane Ouattara visited the site, about 40km (25 miles) from the commercial capital Abidjan, on the evening of the attack.

He promised that security in Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, will be stepped.

“These cowardly attacks by terrorists will not be tolerated,” he said.

He met with ministers on Monday in an emergency meeting and announced three days of national mourning.

AQIM has been behind two other similar attacks in West Africa in the last four months, attacking hotels in Mali and Burkina Faso.

BBC regional reporter Maud Jullien says Ivory Coast has been identified as one of several countries in West Africa at risk of being targeted by Islamist militants.

A witness to Sunday’s attack told AFP news agency that “heavily armed men wearing balaclavas” had opened fire near the L’Etoile du Sud hotel, which was full of foreign visitors.

One of the people on the beach, Belgian Charline Burton, told the BBC she grabbed her daughter and ran to hide in a toilet.

“We could hear them shooting so we could hear that they were going right next to where we were. It was a miracle the baby didn’t cry,” she said.

Source BBC

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