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Ivory Coast Beach Attack Leaves at Least 16 Dead, Attackers Also Killed

by The Associated Press, Reuters, Cassandra Vinograd and Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 
A soldier comforts an injured boy in Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016.JOE PENNEY / Reuters

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Six people carried out attacks near three hotels in Ivory Coast on Sunday, killing at least 16 people, the government said.

Sixteen people, including four Europeans and two soldiers, were killed in Grand Bassam when gunmen opened fire in the popular tourist destination, President Alassane Ouattara said. The six attackers were also killed, and "the situation is under control," he said.

Twenty-two other people, including three special forces members, were injured, he said.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the assaults, according to the global security firm Flashpoint Intelligence, an NBC News partner.

The attackers, who were split into two groups, continued the attack for more than three hours, Ouattara said. Special forces troops arrived within 45 minutes, he said.

A statement from French President François Hollande's office said that one French national was among those killed. The president's office condemned the attack and said, "We'll pursue and intensify our cooperation with our partners in the fight against terrorism."

 A soldier comforts an injured boy in Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 13, 2016. JOE PENNEY / Reuters

An official at the U.S. Embassy in the West African nation told NBC News that a U.S. trade delegation was in Grand-Bassam on Sunday that but there was no evidence that Americans were targeted or hurt. The State Department said the embassy was "making every effort" to account for Americans in the area.

Josiane Sekongo, 25, who lives across from one of Grand-Bassam's many beachfront hotels, told The Associated Press that she heard gunfire and saw people running from the beach. She said security forces arrived as residents hid in their homes.

The deadly attack is at least the third on a West African tourist hub in a year. Extremists besieged a Mali hotel in November and a hotel in Burkina Faso in January. Al Qaeda-linked groups claimed responsibility for both of those attacks.

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