Al Qaeda claim responsibility for Ivory Coast tourist resort attack which left 14 civilians, two soldiers dead
* 14 civilians and two soldiers killed
* Panic as tourists flee into hotels
* Attack took place on beach
* Gunmen 'neutralised' - official
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for an attack on an Ivory Coast resort town on Sunday that killed 14 civilians and two soldiers.
"In a message posted on its Telegram channels on March 13, 2016, the group reported that three `heroes' from its group were able to storm the resort," according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online communications by militant groups.
Assailants opened fire on beach-goers in Grand-Bassam, a historic Ivory Coast resort town, sending tourists fleeing through hotels.
Photos posted to social media apparently taken at the scene showed bodies sprawled on the beach.
The Ivory Coast's president has said 14 civilians, including four Europeans, and six assailants were killed in an attack on the Grand-Bassam beach resort.
Security forces responded as the area was evacuated, while residents hid in their homes.
Ivorian Ministry of Interior reported three hotels in Grand Bassam to be attacked.
They said that six attackers have been 'neutralized'.
The bursts of gunfire were heard in the south-eastern Ivory Coast beach town about 25 miles east of Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial centre, said a witness, in what is the third major attack on a tourism centre in a West African country since November.
Shots rang out in Grand-Bassam, a popular weekend destination for Ivorians and foreigners, according to 25-year-old Josiane Sekongo, who lives across from one of the town's many beachfront hotels.
People ran from the beach amid the gunfire, she said.
A receptionist at the Etoile de Sud hotel in Grand-Bassam said the attacks happened on the beach.
"We don't know where they came from, and we don't know where they've gone," he said of the gunmen.
Everyone in the hotel was safe, and police were present, he said.
An American embassy delegation was in Grand-Bassam on Sunday, but the US Embassy in Abidjan said it is monitoring the situation and it has no evidence that US citizens were targeted. It could not confirm reports of any US citizens having been harmed.
Attacks by extremists on hotels frequented by foreigners in two other West African countries, Mali in November and Burkina Faso in January, killed dozens of people and indicated that extremist attacks are spreading from North Africa.
The historic town of Grand-Bassam is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Monitoring the situation in Grand Bassam. No evidence that U.S. citizens were targeted nor confirmed reports of any U.S citizens as harmed.— U.S. Embassy Abidjan (@USEmbAbidjan) March 13, 2016