Abidjan, Ivory Coast: At least 12 people, including four Europeans, were killed on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on beachgoers at a resort town in Ivory Coast, an officer from the national police said.

“For the moment, we have a total of 12 dead, including four Europeans ... We don’t know yet if there are others. We are doing clean-up operations right now,” the officer told security forces during a briefing attended by a Reuters reporter.

Bursts of gunfire were heard on Sunday in a southeastern Ivory Coast beach town about 40km east of Abidjan, said a witness, in what is the third major attack on a tourism centre in a West African country since November.

Shots rang out in Grand-Bassam, a popular weekend destination for Ivorians and foreigners, said 25-year-old Josiane Sekongo, who lives across from one of the town’s many beachfront hotels. People ran from the beach amid the gunfire, she said.

Security forces responded as residents hid in their homes, she said.

An American embassy delegation was in Grand-Bassam on Sunday but the US Embassy in Abidjan said it is monitoring the situation in Grand-Bassam and there is no evidence that US citizens were targeted nor confirmed reports of any US citizens harmed.

It was unclear how many assailants were involved. Casualty information was not immediately available.

Attacks by extremists on hotels frequented by foreigners in two other West African countries, Mali in November and Burkina Faso in January, killed dozens of people and indicated that extremist attacks are spreading from North Africa.