About 13 militants landed from the sea fired opening fire on people gathered on the beach and hotels. Tourism, a major source of the economy, targeted. Al Qaeda claims responsibility. Attack similar to those in Tunisia, Mali and Burkina Faso. Dead include Lebanese, French and German national.
Abidjan (AsiaNews) - "The Ivory Coast is not a country that inculcates fear; fundamentalism is not a problem here. Whoever carried out this massacre comes from outside and deliberately targeted an important source of the economy: tourism", says Fr. Davide Carraro. The PIME missionary based in Ivory Coast expresses his grief and shock at the attack yesterday in Grand-Bassam, a beach resort around 40 km from the capital.
Eyewitnesses speak of about 13 militants, armed to the teeth and wearing balaclavas, who arrived aboard boats and opened fire indiscriminately on those present who were taking in the sun or were in the restaurant or bar at Etoile du Sud and two other hotels.
One witness said that one of the assailants shouted several times "Allah akbar (God is great)" in Arabic. Others, still shaken, say that the attackers demanded those present shout "Allah akbar" Anyone who did not was killed instantly. According to the interior ministry, the dead were Ivorians and foreigners, including Lebanese, a French and German national.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a branch of the fundamentalist terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attack and said three of its fighters were killed. The Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, who went to the site of the attack, said the attackers were slain.
This attack represents something new in the Ivory Coast. The mechanics of the attack is similar to the attacks in Tunisia, Mali and Burkina Faso. Last June, a young man opened fire on tourists in Sousse, killing 37. In November, a commando attacked a hotel in Bamako, leaving 20 dead; in January, gunmen killed 30 people in Ouagadougou. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed the last two attacks.
From Brazil, the PIME missionary has been in the country’s north-west since 2013. Despite the threat of Boko Haram and mutual mistrust, he has created the conditions for a peaceful and fruitful dialogue between Christians and Muslims. For him, Christians feel a duty to “learn more about the religion of the other”. Living among Muslims, “one is called to give an account of one’s faith."
Secretary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Young people can be "resources for their countries and for the world," but it is necessary to fight the social problems and the narrative that leads to violent extremism.
Telegrams are sent to Mgr Raymond Ahoua, bishop of Grand-Bassam (Ivory Coast), and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met the Pope during his visit to Turkey in 2014.