France ups Africa anti-terror support after Ivory Coast attack

France has vowed to step up anti-terrorist cooperation in Africa after Al-Qaeda's North African branch said it carried out a deadly weekend attack on an Ivory Coast beach resort.

AFP| Updated: Mar 16, 2016, 08:11 AM IST

Abidjan: France has vowed to step up anti-terrorist cooperation in Africa after Al-Qaeda's North African branch said it carried out a deadly weekend attack on an Ivory Coast beach resort.

"We must reinforce our cooperation so that the terrorists have no chance" of success, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault yesterday, who arrived in Abidjan earlier Tuesday along with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

The two ministers flew in after Sunday's attack on the Grand-Bassam resort that left 18 people dead, among them four French nationals. Thirty-three people were wounded in the attack, 26 of whom are still in hospital.

After visiting some of the wounded, the French ministers met with Ivorian Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi and Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko.

Also in Abidjan as a mark of solidarity were Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi and Togolese counterpart Faure Gnassingbe, who urged a regional response to terror.

"You don't fight terrorism alone... There are national responses which are important but they must be complemented and amplified by a regional and international response," Gnassignbe said.

"Alone, no one can defeat terrorism."

"Terrorism falls under international jurisdiction," agreed Benin's president.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) said the shooting rampage was one of a series of operations "targeting dens of espionage and conspiracies".

It directly threatened France and its allies in the region in warning that nations involved in the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane and the 2013 French-led Operation Serval in Mali would "receive a response", with their "criminal leaders" and interests targeted, according to the SITE group which monitors extremist groups.

"Regarding (Operation) Barkhane... We have decided to station GIGN elements who in the event of attack in the region will be able intervene quickly and provide training in circumstances of serious terrorist crisis," to achieve a coordinated response, Cazeneuve said.

GIGN is a French paramilitary unit.

He said rapid intervention units could follow and that if necessary, France would "go beyond" mere coordination, without giving further details.

French President Francois Hollande had on Sunday vowed to "intensify cooperation" in African states hit by insurgencies.