Militants have killed at least 16 people in a gun attack on a beach resort in southern Ivory Coast – BBC News reports.

Witnesses confirm that the vicious attack happened in the early hours of Sunday afternoon, at one of the nation’s most popular spots for both domestic and international tourists. The Grand Bassam beach resort is a UNESCO World Heritage site patronized often at weekends.

While people were relaxing at the targeted location, six armed men came in and started shooting at the people. While some witnesses assert the gun shots were targeted, some others say they randomly opened fire on the people at the resort.

On visiting the scene of the attack, Ivory Coast’s President, Alassane Ouattara said 16 people have been confirmed dead – 14 civilians and 2 soldiers. Enlisted in the death toll are 4 expatriates, 2 of whom are French and German nationals.

“I present my condolences to the families of the people who were murdered, and of course I am very proud of our security forces who reacted so fast…”

He also told the media that the six gunmen were also killed in the combat.

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed the attack via social media. In the recent past, the militant group has laid out attacks on the borders and neighboring countries of Ivory Coast. Having similar luxury hotels as targets, AQIM unleashed a brutal attack in Mali in November 2015 and another one by January in Burkina Faso.

In line with the above attacks, it was largely speculated that the West African nation formerly appraised for its stability, was a most probable target. History has it that the seed of terrorism was sown in the 2002 civil war. The upheaval was caused by the religious misunderstanding between the Christians and Muslims. Ever since, the once peaceful country has not been the same again.

Up until now the government of Ivory coast has been making efforts to avoid awful situations like this. Basing their security strategies in the north, and now the recent beach tragedy happening in the south, there is a possibility of an already infiltrated society. According to BBC reports, the militants “might have an even greater presence in the country.”

The UN, U.S and French governments have condemned this dastardly act. The French Embassy and the British Foreign Office requests a limited travel to the location, hence forth.

In analyzing the attack, the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) intelligence organisation suggest that the extremist group were specifically targeting Europeans. More so, that “AQIM is also competing with ISIS for reassertion and dominance in West Africa, among other regions”.

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