Al-Qaida attack will not derail Ivory Coast revival, president says

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Al-Qaida attack will not derail Ivory Coast revival, president says
Troops wait with a wreath for the arrival of the Ivorian president to pay tribute to the victims in the resort town of Grand-Bassam on March 16, 2016. The toll from a deadly attack in Ivory Coast by an Al-Qaeda affiliate rose to 19, with the body of a young man shot in the head found on the beach. Citizens from Burkina Faso, Germany and France were among those killed when gunmen stormed three hotels and sprayed a beach with bullets at the Grand-Bassam beach resort, an unprecedented jihadist assault in Ivory Coast. / AFP / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries a wreath on behalf of the Beninese president while he visits the Etoile du Sud hotel and Bassam Beach on March 15, 2016 following a jihadist attack. The presidents of Togo and Benin arrived in Abidjan to show their solidarity with Ivory Coast in the fight against terrorism, a day after a jihadist attack killed 18 people in the resort town of Grand-Bassam. / AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
An empty street where local residents claim attackers came from during a beach attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Ivory Coast is reeling from its first Islamic extremist attack, after gunmen entered the beach area with automatic weapons on a killing spree and leaving 18 people dead in the tourist resort Sunday March 13. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)
A rock, center, marks the spot were the body of a victim was found, according to local people, after the unidentified man was killed during a beach terror attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Ivory Coast is reeling from its first Islamic extremist attack, after gunmen entered the beach area with automatic weapons on a killing spree and leaving 18 people dead in the tourist resort Sunday March 13. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)
Police tape secures the area leading to the Etoile du Sud Hotel that was involved in a beach terror attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Ivory Coast is reeling from its first Islamic extremist attack, after gunmen entered the beach area with automatic weapons on a killing spree and leaving 18 people dead in the tourist resort Sunday March 13. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)
Bullet holes damage the bar area, including the refrigerator, left, at Etoile du Sud Hotel, following a beach attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Ivory Coast is reeling from its first Islamic extremist attack, after gunmen entered the beach area with automatic weapons on a killing spree and leaving 18 people dead in the tourist resort Sunday March 13. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)
A bullet hole through the bar refrigerator door, at Etoile du Sud Hotel, that was involved in an beach attack in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The Ivory Coast is reeling from its first Islamic extremist attack, after gunmen entered the beach area with automatic weapons on a killing spree and leaving 18 people dead in the tourist resort Sunday March 13. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)
Bullet holes are seen on a wall, center, outside of the Nouvelle Paillote hotel, one of the three hotels involved in an attack at Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Monday, March 14, 2016. Survivors of the first attack by Islamic extremists in Ivory Coast described scenes of confusion and fear as the jihadists gunned down defenseless civilians at a beachfront resort area. (AP Photo/Christin Roby)
Grenades and ammunition lay in a tire outside the Nouvelle Paillote Hotel, one of the three hotels involved in an attack at Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Monday, March 14, 2016. Survivors of the first attack by Islamic extremists in Ivory Coast described scenes of confusion and fear as the jihadists gunned down defenseless civilians at a beachfront resort area. (AP Photo/Christin Roby)
Local people stand near a taped off area that formed part of the crime scene outside the Nouvelle Paillote Hotel, one of the three hotels involved in an attack at Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, Monday, March 14, 2016. Survivors of the first attack by Islamic extremists in Ivory Coast described scenes of confusion and fear as the jihadists gunned down defenseless civilians at a beachfront resort area. (AP Photo/Christin Roby)
A picture taken on March 14 , 2016 in Grand Bassam, around 40 km east of Abidjan, shows the beach a day after gunmen attacked the Ivory Coast resort town popular with Ivorians and Westerners, killing fourteen civilians and two soldiers. Al-Qaeda's North African affiliate claimed the attack. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will visit Ivory Coast on March 15 in a show of solidarity with the country as fears grow of a mounting jihadist threat in west Africa. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at newspapers covers on March 14, 2016 in Abidjan, a day after gunmen attacked the Ivory Coast resort town of Grand-Bassam, popular with Ivorians and Westerners, killing fourteen civilians and two soldiers. Al-Qaeda's North African affiliate claimed the attack. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will visit Ivory Coast on March 15 in a show of solidarity with the country as fears grow of a mounting jihadist threat in west Africa. / AFP / SIA-KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA-KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
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GRAND BASSAM, Ivory Coast, March 16 - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara vowed on Wednesday that an al Qaeda-claimed attack on a beach resort that killed 18 people would not derail the West African nation's post-war revival.

Militants, three of whom were later killed, burst onto the beach in the town of Grand Bassam, around 40 km (25 miles) from the commercial capital Abidjan, on Sunday, gunning down swimmers and sunbathers before entering several hotels.

The attack is a heavy blow for Ivory Coast, which has recovered from more than a decade of political turmoil and a 2011 civil war to become one of the world's best performing economies with annual growth averaging around 9 percent.

SEE EARLIER: Al Qaeda gunmen kill 16 in Ivory Coast beach attack

Ouattara won a landslide election victory in October, promising to attract foreign investment to the largest economy in French-speaking West Africa. The country is also the world's top cocoa producer.

"Our march towards (economic) emergence is irreversible. The progress we've made in the past four years must be further reinforced," he said before a cabinet meeting held in the town.

Three Ivorian army special forces soldiers and four French citizens were also killed in the attack, as well as citizens from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, France, Germany, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mali and Nigeria.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group's North African branch, said the assault was revenge for a French offensive against Islamist militants in the Sahel.

Grand Bassam is a popular weekend retreat only a short drive from Abidjan, a cosmopolitan regional economic hub that is home to around five million inhabitants.

The attack came just as the Ivorian government was seeking to revitalize a once lucrative international tourism industry that was decimated by the crisis years.

After visiting the beach in Grand Bassam and laying a wreath in memory of the dead, Ouattara attempted to reassure those employed in local tourism.

"We want to tell the hotels that we must do everything so that life gets back to normal. We must not be intimidated, discouraged by the terrorists," he said. "I am sure that this weekend the hotel business will return to normal."

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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