AT least 12 people, including a five-year-old child, are thought to have been killed after armed gunmen “hunting Westerners” stormed two beach resorts in the Ivory Coast.
Four Europeans are said to be among those killed, according to a police source.
Local reports claim the attackers were “hunting for Westerners” in popular tourist resort Grand-Bassam.
Hostages have reportedly been taken in two hotels, including the Hotel Etoile du Sud, which is popular with Western tourists and diplomats.
A police source confirmed at least 12 people have died, four of whom are Europeans, according to Reuters.
Ivory Coast’s government earlier said at least 11 were killed in a Facebook post, including the young child, but the post has since been deleted.
It said five victims were Ivorian men and five were women, whose nationalities are yet unknown.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said officials were “urgently” trying to establish whether any British nationals had been caught up in the incident.
They said: “We are working with the authorities in the Ivory Coast to determine which nationalities have been caught up.”
The army is now releasing people who have been hiding in hotels during the horror gun attack.
Witness Dramane Kima told Reuters: “I saw seven dead that I filmed. There were four attackers. I was swimming when it started and I ran away.”
Dramane claimed there were at least four gunmen involved.
Heavily armed attackers are still thought to be inside the Koral Beach Annexe and Hotel Etoile du Sud.
A witness told AFP the assailants were “heavily armed and wearing balaclavas” and said they “fired at guests at L’Etoile du Sud (Southern Star), a large hotel which was full of expats in the current heatwave”.
Other witnesses claimed “gunshots came from a boat in front of the beach”.
A crowd of several hundred people had gathered at the entrance to Grand-Bassam’s French quarter at the edge of the old town, where a dozen ambulances were on standby.
A statement from the Ivory Coast government said: “[There has been] an attack by armed men on two hotels in grand-Bassam.
“Our security services are on site to contain the events and protect our people.
“We request to people not to panic and keep calm.”
The Ivory Coast army evacuated stretches of the beach as horrific photos show bodies strewn in the sand.
At least two attackers armed with machine guns reportedly opened fire at the hotel in the coastal city Grand-Bassam.
It is not clear exactly how many gunmen there are.
One local news source said one European and their companion were seriously injured in the attack.