Sunday 13 March 2016

Ivory Coast terror attack

Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orléans, and his wife Diana, Duchess of Cadaval, were caught up in the terror attack on the Ivory Coast. Obviously a distressing experience for them. Our prayers for those who lost their lives or were injured and for their families. May God have mercy.

This report from Paris Match:

Invited to the gala of the Foundation "Children of Africa" ​​chaired by the First Lady of Ivory Coast, Dominique Ouattara, Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orléans, a former officer of the Army and his wife Diane were on the beach Grand Bassam in the attack. They gave this report to Paris Match.

It was 12:30 on Sunday, we had just arrived in Abidjan with three friends, Madrague, a lovely place run by French which serves a delicious braised chicken on the beach. It was a fantastic time, the sea was beautiful. My wife and two friends settled on chairs. Time to put me in a swimsuit and cover twenty meters to go to sea with a friend, we heard a first shot.

This was to be five minutes after our arrival. Probably a .22 LR. It sounded like a firecracker. There was a huge crowd on this beach to which access by paying Ivorians. Everyone froze for a moment. Then there was a second shot, 9 mm no doubt, and then everybody started running in all directions, said the Prince of Orleans, former officer in the army, which was on mission in Côte d'Ivoire during the crisis in 2004 and therefore knows the country well, and armaments. We joined my wife and our other friends and stayed in shelters and minutes. Then, as it seemed nothing happened, I left on the sand to the sea to swim. And there it started shooting in all directions. Back to shelters. I phoned a friend that it was two hotels there. I told him: "It's hot in here, that shot ..." He first thought it was a joke. Then he heard the pistol shots echoing on the wall behind me.

People were running in all directions: "go away, leave ... as say the Ivorians. I tried to find out, the wildest rumors were running too. We were initially told that it was the police who fired into the air to dismiss a group of young people who had tried to access the beach without paying, then we were told about a robbery, then three simultaneous. And then we saw the wounded, the dead can be, on the sand. And here we thought it was time to go, really, as soon as possible. At that point we heard a shot every ten or fifteen seconds. They fired at us, the bullets rang out. The hotel staff had taken to the shelter in a cabin while glass on the beach. I brought them out by telling them they were crazy, they were going to get shot like rabbits, the windows will protect them from anything ...

I did not hear anyone shouting "Allah u Akbar" or bursts repeatedly features automatic weapons. I recognize them. I think they had handguns, Type 9 mm or Magnum. It pulled to the right, the terrorists went up by the beach, feet, and also by road, going eastward, to a larger hotel. We felt surrounded. The first time we tried to get our car in the parking lot. But it was too dangerous. We waited as long as the shooting calmed down a little. I keep in mind the image of the owner of the hotel who was trembling against the wall, it was terrible, it was on the edge of discomfort. We took advantage of a lull to start the car and return to Abidjan. " Says Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orléans.

Terrorists them continued to sow death go further down the beach in Grand Bassam. Six of them have been neutralized in the late afternoon. The balance was then ten dead, including five "Westerners". Heavily armed reinforcements crisscross the scene tonight. And numerous checkpoints were located on the road connecting these beaches in Abidjan. Few people doubt there of the fact that this is an attack by Islamists. Hezbollah was listed Friday by the Ivorian Government on the list of terrorist organizations.

According to a government source, the partial results of the attack would be at this time of 22 dead, including 14 civilians, six terrorists and two members of the Ivorian security forces. The attack was claimed by al-mourabitoun, Al-Qaida of Jihad in West Africa, Sahel armed Salafist group born in August 2013 from the merger of MUJAO and Signatories by blood. Its emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar had officially joined al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on December 4, 2015. At the present time two attackers are still at large. People who were in Assini and Grand Bassam for the weekend were assigned on site and are asked not to return to Abidjan. 

This report from the BBC on the attack:

Al-Qaeda-linked militants have killed at least 14 civilians and two soldiers in a gun attack on a beach resort in south-eastern Ivory Coast.
The attackers fired on beach-goers in Grand Bassam, about 40km (25 miles) from the commercial capital Abidjan.
The resort is popular with both locals and foreigners. One of the dead was French, France's foreign ministry says.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed the attack. The gunmen have been "neutralised", officials say.
Ivory Coast was once one of the most stable countries in West Africa.
However, a civil war broke out in 2002, pitting the mainly Muslim north against the largely Christian south. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence.
A man comforts an injured boy in Bassam, Ivory Coast, on 13 March, 2016Image copyrightReuters
Soldiers stand guard in front of the Etoile du Sud hotel in Bassam,Image copyrightReuters
Image caption
The Etoile du Sud hotel was targeted
A witness of Sunday's attack told AFP that "heavily armed men wearing balaclavas" had opened fire near the L'Etoile du Sud hotel, which was full of expats.
Another eyewitness, Souleymane Kamagate, says he saw people running from the beach and fleeing in all directions.
French President Francois Hollande condemned the "cowardly attack" in which a French national died. There is no word so far on the nationalities of other victims.
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.
AQIM claimed deadly attacks on luxury hotels in Mali in November and Burkina Faso in January.
The group, which has its origin in Algeria's civil war of the 1990s, has expanded across the Sahel regions south of the Sahara in recent years.