March 22, 2016 / 5:18 PM / 3 years ago

Ivory Coast arrests 15, seeks leader of al Qaeda beach attack

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

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast authorities arrested 15 people in connection with an attack claimed by al Qaeda that killed 19 people at a beach resort earlier this month, a state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

They were still seeking the suspected ring-leader, who prosecutor Richard Adou named as Kounta Dallah.

Gunmen shot swimmers and sunbathers before storming into several hotels when they burst onto the beach in the town of Grand Bassam, 40 km (25 miles) from the commercial capital Abidjan, on March 13.

“Evidence found at the scene has allowed us to identify and trace certain individuals who participated in these acts,” Adou told a news conference.

He showed reporters a photo of Dallah that appeared to have been taken during an airport passport inspection. No other details about the suspect were available.

Weapons, ammunition, balaclavas and vehicles believed to have been used by the attackers were being examined and a judge was preparing both domestic and international arrest warrants for other suspects, Adou added.

Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by John Stonestreet

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