Fourteen civilians and two soldiers have been killed in the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand Bassam following an attack on the popular weekend retreat, officials say.

Sunday's attack targeted three hotels in the southeastern town which is located about 40km east of the country's economic capital, Abidjan.

"Six attackers came to the beach in Bassam this afternoon," President Alassane Ouattara said during a visit to the site.

 

"We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed."

The six attackers were also killed, he said.

An officer from the national police told Reuters news agency that the dead included four Europeans.

A French foreign ministry spokesperson said one French national was among the dead.

A witness told Al Jazeera that she saw one attacker and people running to take cover as soon as shots were heard.

She said it took police 30 to 45 minutes to arrive at the resort.

The attackers were "heavily armed and wearing balaclavas" and "fired at guests at L'Etoile du Sud, a large hotel which was full of expats in the current heatwave", a witness told AFP news agency.

A Reuters witness saw two people wounded and a video taken by a witness showed seven people lying on the ground following the attack by armed men who have yet to be identified.

The historic town of Grand Bassam is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The resort is a popular destination for foreigners and residents of Abidjan [Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies