Africa

Ivory Coast to expand rapid response forces after attack

FILE- In this Sunday, March 13, 2016 file photo, a Ivory Coast soldier stands outside the Etoile du Sud, where gunmen attacked, in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast plans to establish new centers for rapid response forces to protect soft targets throughout the country following an attack by Islamic extremists on a popular beach town earlier this month that left 19 dead, the country’s prime minister said Thursday. March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Christin Roby, File)

FILE- In this Sunday, March 13, 2016 file photo, a Ivory Coast soldier stands outside the Etoile du Sud, where gunmen attacked, in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast plans to establish new centers for rapid response forces to protect soft targets throughout the country following an attack by Islamic extremists on a popular beach town earlier this month that left 19 dead, the country‚Äôs prime minister said Thursday. March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Christin Roby, File)  (The Associated Press)

Ivory Coast's prime minister says the government will establish new centers for rapid response forces to protect soft targets throughout the country from extremist attacks.

Islamic militants opened fire on the beach at Grand-Bassam on March 13, killing 19 people in the first attack of its kind in Ivory Coast.

In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said the toll could have been much higher had the attack taken place at another beach town or in the interior. Grand-Bassam is linked by highway to Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial hub, allowing for a swift response from special forces based there.

Duncan said new centers for rapid response forces would likely be set up in the northern city of Korhogo and San Pedro in the southwest.