BAMAKO – Two Malians have been arrested on suspicion of playing a key role in a deadly attack on a Cote d’Ivoire beach resort claimed by an al-Qaida linked group, security sources said Sunday.
The two were arrested in northern Mali on Friday and Saturday following indications they “actively participated” in the March 13 assault on three hotels and a beach in Grand-Bassam that left 19 people dead, one of the sources told AFP.
The suspects were named as Midy Ag Sodack Dicko, accused of organizing the logistics for the attack, and Ibrahim Ould Mohamed, said to be the right-hand man of accused mastermind Kounta Dallah, who is still at large, the sources said.
The Grand-Bassam rampage, the first of its kind in the Ivory Coast, was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb which has also carried out similar assaults on tourist hotspots in Mali and Burkina Faso.
Ag Sodack Dicko, who was arrested on Saturday, said the assailants had stayed at his home in Cote d’Ivoire’s main city of Abidjan, although he claimed he “didn’t know” they were going to carry out the attacks, one of the sources said.
A police source told AFP that Ag Sodack Dicko had played a logistical role in the attacks and had flown to the Malian capital Bamako shortly afterward.
Armed with grenades and assault rifles, the attackers stormed three hotels in Grand-Bassam, a resort popular with expats that lies 40 km (25 miles) from Abidjan.
It was the latest in a series of high-profile assaults in North and West Africa targeting locals and tourists alike.