Top French officials on Tuesday visited the Ivory Coast beach town where Al Qaida's North Africa branch killed at least 18 people in an attack over the weekend.

France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and its Interior Minister met with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, before visiting Grand-Bassam.

"After the attacks in Bamako, in Ouagadougou, and also in Kenya, in Tunisia, in France, as you know happened last year, we are a threat to the terrorists in the same way," said the Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. "What is at issue is our lifestyle, our will to succeed in developing our democracy and freedom."

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb tweeted Monday that it staged the attack as revenge against the West African country for handing over prisoners to Mali, according to SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadi sites.

The extremist group named the three attackers responsible for Sunday's assault that killed at least 18 people, including special forces and 15 civilians from at least six countries.

The attack by Hamza al-Fulani, Abdul Rahman al-Fulani, and Abu Adam al-Ansari was also a warning to France, African and Western countries that it will destroy security for its citizens if not left safe in their lands in the Sahel, the region below the Sahara, according to SITE.

French-led forces pushed the al-Qaida-linked group from strongholds in northern Mali in 2013.

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Associated Press reporter Hilaire Zon contributed to this report.