Update 7:07 p.m. (local time)
Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara said 14 civilians and six assailants were killed in the attack Sunday, AP reported. Two special forces were also killed.
Multiple people were killed on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on beachgoers at a resort town in Ivory Coast, Reuters reported.
The attack took place at on the beach near the Etoile du Sud hotel and two other hotels in the town of Grand Bassam, a UNESCO World Heritage site about 25 miles away from the country's capital, Abidjan.
An unknown number of unidentified assailants opened fire on guests who were sunbathing and walking on the beach, BBC reported.
A witness told AFP the gunmen were "heavily armed men wearing balaclavas."
Witness Braman Kinda told AFP at least four attackers "roamed the beach firing shots."
Witnesses have said the gunmen shouted "Allahu Akbar." It's unclear if they are affiliated with any militant group.
According to AFP, several witnesses reported at least one assailant was killed. Another witness, Kouamena Kakou Bertin, told AFP three others fled on foot.
"We don't know where they came from, and we don't know where they've gone," a receptionist at the Etoile de Sud hotel told The Associated Press of the gunmen.
Security forces later "neutralized" six attackers, Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko said in a statement.
Etoile du Sud is known to be popular among locals and international travelers. A witness told AFP the hotel "was full of expats in the current heatwave."
"The shots took us by surprise and now we are staying holed up," a witness told AFP.
The area was evacuated, people inside the hotel were safe and residents hid in their homes.
AFP reported that security forces and military vehicles arrived on the scene carrying heavy machine guns and "traditional hunters known as Dozo."
It's unclear how many people have been killed and injured.
Reuters reported a death toll of 12, while AFP and BBC reported "at least five" people had been killed. Some reports said four victims were European, including one French person.
The U.S. embassy in Ivory Coast said there's no evidence that any Americans were targeted or harmed during the attack.
“Searches are being conducted,” said Minister of State Hamed Bakayoko in a television broadcast. “A detailed toll will be communicated in the coming hours.”
A message posted on the official Facebook page of the Ivory Coast government Sunday afternoon reported 11 deaths.
It said: "An attack by armed men on two hotels at Grand-Bassam. Our security services are on site to deal with the situation and protect the population.
"We ask people not to panic and to remain calm. For those wanting to return to Abidjan from Assinie etc, we ask you to avoid the Grand Bassam area.
- 5 Ivorian men
- 5 women, whose nationalities are as yet unknown
- 1 child aged under five
"There are injuries who have been attended to and evacuated by the emergency services."
The post was later deleted.
Monitoring the situation in Grand Bassam. No evidence that U.S. citizens were targeted nor confirmed reports of any U.S citizens as harmed.— U.S. Embassy Abidjan (@USEmbAbidjan) March 13, 2016