Al-Qaeda says Ivory Coast attack was revenge against France
ABIDJAN – Reuters
AFP photoAl-Qaeda’s North African branch said its attack on a beach resort in Ivory Coast on March 13 that killed 18 people was revenge for a French offensive against Islamist militants in the Sahel region and called for its forces to withdraw.
The raid in Grand Bassam claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was the first of its kind in Ivory Coast but the third in the region since November 2015.
It was also a setback for France, who lost four of its nationals when gunmen opened fire on people eating lunch at restaurants and sunning themselves on the sand.
“We repeat our call to all countries involved in the French invasion of Mali to withdraw,” the group said in a statement.
It named the attackers but gave no further details of their identities.
France is a key player in security in West Africa with about 3,500 troops in the region. It has also joined a campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is based in Iraq and Syria.
Paris is to station a force of armed gendarmes in the capital of Burkina Faso to react swiftly in the event of another attack in the region and to provide training, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on March 15.
“The desire to position this [gendarmerie] team in Ouagadougou is to enable us to immediately dispense advice and coordinate other actions in the event of a terrorist crisis,” Cazeneuve said.
He was speaking during a visit with Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ivory Coast that aims to reassure the large French community and boost the investigation into the attack in Grand Bassam.