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Life Terms for Ivory Coast Jihadis

FILE: Four defendants linked with the Grand Bassam attack Kounta Sidi Mohamed (CL), Cisse Hantao Ag Mohamed (CR), Cisse Mohamed (R) and Barry Hassan (L) sit in the box of the accused during their trial at the criminal court of Abidjan on December 22, 2022

A court in Ivory Coast on Wednesday handed down life terms to four men convicted of abetting a jihadist attack on a resort that left 19 people dead.

The four men - Hantao Ag Mohamed Cisse, Sidi Mohamed Kounta, Mohamed Cisse and Hassan Barry - were convicted of providing support for the operation.

The court in Abidjan, the country's commercial hub, found the four "guilty of the deeds for which they are accused and sentences them to life imprisonment," Judge Charles Bini announced on December 28.

None of those suspected of playing a higher role in the attack were present in court.

The court has issued an international arrest warrant against the alleged mastermind, Kounta Dallah.

The March 13, 2016 assault was the first jihadist attack in Ivory Coast, one of West Africa's economic powerhouses.

Three men wielding assault rifles stormed the beach at Grand-Bassam, a resort town 40 kilometers east of Abidjan popular with Europeans, before attacking hotels and restaurants.

The 45-minute bloodbath ended when Ivorian security forces shot dead the three attackers.

The 19 people killed comprised nine Ivorians, four French citizens, a Lebanese, a German, a Macedonian, a Malian, a Nigerian and a person who could not be identified.

Thirty-three people of various nationalities were wounded.

Al-Qaeda's North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed responsibility the same day.