Islamic militants attack 3 hotels in Ivory Coast

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Gunmen mounted deadly attacks at three hotels in the beach resort city of Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast, shortly after noon on Sunday, according to the government.

The government said 16 people were killed, including 14 civilians and two soldiers. Six attackers also died, the government said.

French President Francois Hollande, whose nation maintains a close relationship with Ivory Coast, said that at least one French citizen was among the dead.

Video from the scene, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the country’s largest city, Abidjan, appeared to show people fleeing from a hotel during the attack.

Photos on social media showed ammunition magazines and grenades on the ground near the scene.

Hollande condemned what he called a cowardly attack and pledged French support to find out who was responsible for the attack, which the Ivory Coast government had earlier said targeted two hotels.

The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan reported that it had no evidence that U.S. citizens were targeted or harmed.

The French Embassy said it had set up a crisis unit and asked people to limit travel in the area and stay clear of security forces. The British Foreign Office had similar advice.

In the past year, two countries bordering Ivory Coast, which are Mali and Burkina Faso, have witnessed attacks on hotels popular with Westerners.

Ivory Coast itself has not been the target of terror attacks, but the threat of such an incident has risen since the country’s support of France’s 2013 military intervention targeting Islamic extremists in Mali, the U.S. State Department has said.

A terror group in Mali named Ivory Coast as a potential target for attacks in 2015, the State Department said.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the Sunday attacks in the Ivory Coast beach resort city of Grand-Bassam, according to a statement published on one of the group’s purported social media accounts.

SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist organizations, also reported that al Qaeda’s North African affiliate had claimed responsibility for the attack, citing a statement from the terror organization.

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