Ivory Coast hotel shooting: Child 'spared for praying' as another is shot dead by 'Arabic speaking' attacker

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has taken responsibility for the attack

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The Independent Online

At least one child was among the 16 people killed in an attack at the popular Grand-Bassam resort in Ivory Coast, it has been reported.

Officials say four Europeans were among 14 civilian victims, while two soldiers died as part of an operation that saw six gunmen "neutralised".

A witness named Marcel Guy said he saw a group of at least four men armed with Kalashnikovs on the beach near the L'Etoile du Sud hotel.

A bearded gunman approached two children and allegedly spoke in Arabic.

One child knelt and prayed but the other was shot dead.

"The Christian boy was shot and killed right in front of my eyes," Mr Guy said.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has taken responsibility for the attack, which marks the first Islamist terror attack on the West African nation since 2011.

Many other countries in the region have been hit hard by Islamist militant insurgencies.

Neighbouring Mali has seen significant conflict in recent years.  

In November 2015, the Radisson Hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako was targeted by extremists.  

120 hostages were taken and 20 people were killed before special forces stormed the site.