Ivory Coast terrorist attack leaves 16 dead, including 5-year-old boy

Soldiers stand guard on the beach following an attack by gunmen from al Qaeda's North African, in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, March 14, 2016. | REUTERS / Luc Gnago

A terrorist attack at an Ivory Coast beach on Sunday has left 16 people dead, including a five-year-old boy who stood up for his Christian faith.

On Sunday, at least four Al Qaeda militants attacked the beach and rounded up the Christians. They shouted "Allahu Akbar" and opened fire, killing16 people, including the five-year-old boy, four Europeans, and two soldiers, according to TRU News.

Eye witnesses claim the boy knelt and begged for his life before being shot dead by one of the militants. Marcel Guy, who saw the incident, said the Arabic-speaking gunman spared one child who recited an Islamic prayer. However, the militant shot the Christian boy.

"The Christian boy was shot and killed right in front of my eyes," Guy said.

The Al Qaeda attack in the Ivory Coast beach resort sent tourists running through Grand-Bassam. After the commotion, dead bodies were scattered on the beach, CNS News reports.

A few hours after the terrorist attack, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara set foot on Grand-Bassam and released a statement saluting the security forces who responded quickly and helped prevent the death toll from going up.

"I present my condolences to the families of the people who were murdered, and of course I am very proud of our security forces who reacted so fast," Ouattara said. "The toll could've been much heavier."

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Ivory Coast attack. The extremist group also hailed three of the attackers as "heroes" for what they did on Sunday.

Although there was an American embassy delegation in Grand-Bassam at the time, the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan said they had no evidence that the U.S. citizens were targeted in the attack. Nevertheless, they said they are keeping an eye on the situation.

The U.S. also released a statement condemning the Ivory Coast attack. State Department spokesman John Kirby said they are ready to support the local government in the investigation into the attack.