Little Pieces of Justice
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Eighteen people went on trial in Ivory Coast on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in the 2016 attack on a beach resort, considered one of West Africa’s bloodiest terrorist acts, Agence France-Presse reported.
Six years ago, three gunmen wielding assault rifles stormed the Grand-Bassam tourist complex, a popular site with foreigners, 25 miles from Abidjan, the country’s economic hub.
The 45-minute attack killed 19 people, including foreign nationals, and wounded 33 others. Ivorian security forces killed all the attackers.
Al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed responsibility for the act, saying it was in response to anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel region by France and its allies. The jihadist group added that it targeted the West African nation for having handed over AQIM militants to Mali.
Authorities have indicted the 18 individuals on a slew of charges, including terrorism, murder and attempted murder. Even so, only four of the defendants will appear in the long-awaited trial.
Aude Rimailho, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs, said the others – including those who planned the attacks – are either on the run or being held in Mali.
The odds of them being tried there are obscured by “the chill between France and Mali,” she said, referring to a collapse in relations between Paris and the Malian ruling junta.
Mali is the epicenter of a decade-long jihadist insurgency that has shaken the Sahel region, killing thousands and causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
The attack on Grand-Bassam was the first and bloodiest of a series of attacks on countries along the Gulf of Guinea’s southern coast.