April 30, 2016 / 3:05 PM / 3 years ago

France to increase troop numbers in Ivory Coast after beach attack

A French security guard looks at arms at Agban gendarmerie camp during French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visit, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

GRAND BASSAM, Ivory Coast (Reuters) - France will nearly double the number of troops it has in Ivory Coast, the defense minister said on Saturday on a visit during which he laid flowers at the site of an attack on tourists that killed 19 people.

Jean-Yves Le Drian placed a bouquet on the beach in Grand Bassam, a resort town 40 km (25 miles) from Abidjan, where gunmen shot swimmers and sunbathers before storming hotels last month, an attack claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Four French citizens were killed.

Le Drian said France, the former colonial power, would increase its contingent of troops in Ivory Coast to 900 from 550.

“We need to reinforce coordination in an intelligence capacity at the same time as in an intervention capacity in the whole of West Africa,” the defense minister said.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Makini Brice and Robin Pomeroy

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