Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Ivory Coast Beach terror attack in Grand Basam, 16 victims

Ivory Coast, located on the West Coast of Africa. It is sandwiched between Liberia and Ghana as well as Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.

On March 13, a group of 5 gunmen from a branch of the Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb attacked and killed 16 people on the beach at the hotel Etoile du Sud in the Southern Ivorian town of Grand Bassam located some 25 miles from Abidjan, the former Ivorian capital. The majority of injured and killed were locals and other nationalities. The attack appeared to be a copycat of the 2015 Sousse, Tunisia beach attack. Ivory Coast is NOT used to terrorism if any kind. It is rare to experience or imagine an Al Qaeda like attack or ISIS inspired bombing happening anywhere in the Ivory Coast. The same goes for most West African countries including Mali. Until a few years ago. It is both a shock and trauma that AQIM would even attack a small town like Grand Bassam on the Ivorian coast. Ordinary Ivorians are certainly shocked. So are European and other African tourists in Grand Bassam and visiting other parts of Ivory Coast. The town is known mostly for its colonial buildings and laid back atmosphere. It is often overshadowed by Abidjan. The attack has put the country on high alert. The hotel was unfortunately targeted due to the fact that it is used by Westerners and other international expats. AQIM is hellbent on removing Western influences and businesses from across North and Western Africa. It doesn't matter if innocent people are in the way. Boko Haram in Nigeria and other smaller takfiri groups have used ISIS and Al Qaeda tactics to fight against their home governments and attack the same civilians they are claiming to represent. The latest attack in Ivory Coast has turned Africans further away from these groups.

Ivorian soldiers comforting a child and tourist in the aftermath of the Grand Bassam terror attacks.

Ivory Coast is one of the larger countries in West Africa. It borders Liberia to its West, Ghana to its East. Burkina Faso is to the North and the Atlantic Ocean is to the country's South. Historically, Ivory Coast has been a relatively peaceful country. It is most well known as the homeland of Ivorian international footballer Didier Drogba as well as Yahya Toure and other players. Ivory Coast is home to one of the largest churches in Africa, the St Peter Bascilia in Yamoussoukro. For many decades, Abidjan, the former capital of Ivory Coast and the current business city was seen as a model city for other African capitals to follow. Lagos in neighbouring Nigeria could swallow Abidjan several times over. In addition to speaking French, Ivorians also speak. The country is considered a sister republic to Liberia. Both countries keep good relations between one another.

Ivorian youth helped by tourist to medical team following terror attack.

It was only in 2002, that Ivory Coast had its first serious civil war that putted pro-government supporters against opposition. Western media framed the war as a clash between Muslim North and Christian South. The framing wasn't necessarily true. The war had far more to do with politics than religion as most conflicts that happen are centred around political grievances and marginalization as well as wealth/corruption. The French government sent troops to rescue French citizens in 2004 during the height of the war. Once the war ended in 2005, Ivory Coast settled into peace.  Elections in 2012 between Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo, again sparked brief violence between each presidential candidates respective supporters. After the brief war sparked fears of a civil war, Ouattara was selected as president while Laurent Gbagbo was sent to the international Criminal court in The Hague for war crimes along with his wife. Despite the recent events, Ivory Coast has been relatively calm.

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