Driver arrested in Ivory Coast in connection beach resort attack

Ivory Coast police arrested a driver who allegedly transported weapons used in a jihadist attack on the Grand-Bassam beach resort that killed 19 people in March, security sources said.

“Ivorian security sources inform that one of the members and also the driver of the vehicle which transported the weapons during the terrorist attack of 13 March 2016 in Grand-Bassam was arrested by the Ivorian police today 26 May 2016,” said the statement seen by AFP, without giving details on where he was arrested.

The man “is being questioned right now”, the statement said.

“According to preliminary evidence gathered, it appears that this vehicle has already been respectively in Burkina Faso and Mali during periods when these countries suffered terrorist attacks,” it added.

In mid-April, Ivorian Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said people with ties to the resort attack were being “actively sought, particularly in Mali”.

On March 27 two Malians who “actively participated” in the attack were arrested in northern Mali.

The two “acknowledged the facts and gave details of the preparation (for the attack)”, Bakayoko said.

“This allowed us to dismantle their sleeper cells. Now 83 people have been arrested, 16 of whom have a direct connection with the attack. The others (have) links of varying degrees, which we need to verify,” he had said, calling for a “fight against the radicalisation of young people”.

On March 13, three assailants armed with grenades and assault rifles stormed three hotels in Grand-Bassam, a resort popular with expats that lies 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Abidjan.

The attack, the first of its kind in the Ivory Coast, was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb which has also carried out similar assaults on tourist hotspots in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The jihadists claimed the attack on the former French colonial capital was in retaliation for anti-terror operations in the Sahel region led by France and its allies.

The suspected mastermind, Kounta Dallah, is still at large.

Ivorian authorities have drastically tightened border controls and implemented security measures in the country following the attack.

 

– REUTERS

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