Tourists and workers in Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast speak of their sadness and the impact on the beach resort town the morning after a deadly attack killed 16.
GRAND BASSAM, IVORY COAST (MARCH 14, 2016) (REUTERS) – Ivory Coast soldiers armed with AK-47s patrolled the deserted beaches of Grand Bassam on Monday (March 14), a day after gunmen from al Qaeda’s North African branch killed 16 people.
The attack on the beach resort town was the first in Ivory Coast, the economic powerhouse of French speaking West Africa, but it is the latest in a string of raids by Islamist militants on the region.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was responsible for storming the beach hotels in Grand Bassam, a weekend retreat popular with westerners about 40 km (25 miles) east of the commercial capital Abidjan.
One beach worker, Prince Guhi, gave his reaction: “It’s going to be very hard for us now because this is where we make a living. I don’t think that tourists will keep coming here, even though they are the ones who allow us to work and eat. If tourists don’t come here anymore, we are screwed. I don’t even know what to say, I have no words,” said beach worker.”
Foreign citizens from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, France, Germany and Mali were among the victims, according to Ivory Coast Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko. Two Ivorian soldiers and six attackers were also killed.
A French tourist gave his reaction.
“I came on vacation simply to spend a good holiday here because Bassam is very pretty and there are always many people around. I arrived not too long ago, but unfortunately with recent events, it’s damaging for tourism and Ivory Coast. I am deeply saddened by all of this and there are truly no words to describe what happened, but I hope that people continue to visit the Ivory Coast because it’s a beautiful country, especially by the seaside,” he said.
In January, Islamists killed dozens of people in a cafe frequented by foreigners in neighbouring Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou and also attacked a hotel. Gunmen also attacked a hotel in the Malian capital, Bamako, late last year.
Both of those attacks were also claimed by AQIM working with other militant groups.