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Death Toll in Ivory Coast Attack at 21

A body is seen laying on the beach were gunmen staged an attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016.

Officials in Ivory Coast say a total of 21 people were killed in Sunday's attack by jihadist militants on a popular beach resort.

The country's Interior minister, Hamed Bakayoko, said Monday that the dead include 15 civilians, three soldiers and three gunmen. Thirty-three people were wounded.

Earlier reports put the number of gunmen at six. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Francois Dominique Delafosse, told VOA's French to Africa service that officials have no information that other assailants are in hiding.

The spokesman said heightened security is in place around hotels and restaurants.

Al-Qaida's North African affiliate al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted hotels in the city of Grand-Bassam. This was the third time in four months Islamist militants have targeted hotels in West Africa, following deadly assaults in the capitals of Mali and Burkina Faso.

Jihadist Militants Attack Ivory Coast Resort
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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara declared three days of mourning and was expected to address the nation later Monday.

Witnesses to Sunday's attack said the assailants wore hooded face masks and arrived on foot on the beach at one of the hotels, the Southern Star. A witness told VOA that four men shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great) before opening fire.

The United States condemned the "heinous attack," and praised "Ivorian and French" forces for preventing more people from dying.

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. is prepared to assist Ivory Coast in its investigation. He also reiterated U.S. commitment to working with others in West Africa to fight terrorists who want to undermine efforts to "build tolerant and inclusive societies."

Grand-Bassam is a former French colonial capital, about 40 kilometers east of the commercial hub of Abidjan, and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the elegant colonial-era facades of buildings in the city.