Fourteen civilians and two soldiers have been killed in the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand Bassam following an attack on the popular weekend retreat, officials say.
Sunday’s attack targeted three hotels in the southeastern town which is located about 40km east of the country’s economic capital, Abidjan.
“Six attackers came to the beach in Bassam this afternoon,” President Alassane Ouattara said during a visit to the site.
“We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed.”
The terrorist threat had been hovering over Cote d’Ivoire for a few months now. Risk levels were even increased after the Mali and Burkina Faso attacks, that resulted in the tragic death of both local and foreigners. Although the security measures had been increased in Abidjan, few anticipated the attack to happen in Grand Bassam.
More details are coming from the investigation, but here are a few analysis points:
1. These small-scale terrorist attacks just became the biggest security threat in Cote d’Ivoire.
After the Mali and Burkina Faso attacks, and to some extent Westgate in Kenya and the countless Boko Haram crimes, Ivorians are now falling victim to terrorism.
By the nature of these events (light automatic weaponry, limited logistics, low profile target locations), localised precautionary measures can only go so far in protecting civilians. African countries have to work together to address the root causes of the rise of extremism, and provide a comprehensive African solution to stop terrorism.
2. These events will call for a re-organisation of the security apparel to face a different kind of threat.
This is a different of challenge that the government is facing. The relatively high volume of light weapons circulating in the country had created a climate of insecurity, that has been lingering for the past decades in Cote d’Ivoire. But with the new terror threat, and attackers willing to die, the security forces have to change their approach and get used to this new situation.
3. Beyond the human toll, the attacks will have a long-lasting impact on the economy.
With the improvements in stability and infrastructure, the hospitality and tourism sectors had experienced a strong growth, leading to significant investments. But as we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Kenya, we can also expect repercussions in the sector. The response from the government, and the efficiency of the security measures will be crucial for the industry.
Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragic event.