Ivory Coast rescinds port security measures, attack threat unfounded

PUBLISHED: Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:06:53 GMT

Ivory Coast rescinded an order on Sunday to increase security at its two main ports after determining that an earlier reported threat of terrorism was unfounded, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The first transport ministry memorandum had ordered security under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code to be increased to level two due to “probable terrorist attacks” on Ivory Coast’s national territory.

“After compiling the information … it emerged that the threat is not real,” the head of maritime security Colonel Bertin Koffi Tano wrote in a second order to the Abidjan and San Pedro port authorities and shipping companies on Sunday.

“I ask that you return to the normal security level, which is level one,” he added in the document.

The decision to boost security had been made as a regional maritime exercise – known as Obangame Express – sponsored by the U.S. military’s Africa Command was being held off the coast of Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan.

It also came a year after al Qaeda militants stormed the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand Bassam, gunning down swimmers and sunbathers in an attack that killed 19 people.

The ports of Abidjan and San Pedro are both important hubs for West African imports and exports, notably of cocoa. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

Ivory Coast has been a staunch ally of the West in the fight against the growing threat of Islamist militancy in West Africa and its arid Sahel region, making it a declared target for reprisals by groups including al Qaeda.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa and Joe Bavier; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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