Three US Army special operations commandos have been killed and two others injured in Niger
Colloquially known as the Green Berets, the special forces came under fire in the West African country on Wednesday, sources told the Associated Press.
The forces were near the capital Niamey when the incident happened, officials said on condition of anonymity.
The two wounded ones were reportedly taken to a hospital in Niamey, where they remained in a stable condition.
The Takfiri members of the so-called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were tapped as the possible attackers.
Five Nigerien soldiers were among the dead, said Namatta Abubacar, an official for the region of Tillaberi in Niger
The forces were allegedly part of a joint US-Nigerien patrol, operating north of Niamey and near the Mali border, when they came under “hostile fire,” according to statement released later by the US Africa Command.
They are supposedly providing “training and security assistance” to the Nigerien Armed Forces to fight against violent extremists and terrorists there.
The US Army’s measures in the impoverished country involve “support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) efforts,” read the statement.
According to the White House, US President Donald Trump was notified of the deadly ambush as he was flying aboard Air Force One from Las Vegas to Washington Wednesday night.
“We are working to confirm details on the incident and will have more information as soon as we can confirm facts on the ground,” a spokesman for the US Africa Command told The Washington Post.
A Niger diplomatic source also told Reuters the attackers had crossed the border from Mali.
“These militants have proven remarkably resilient, exploiting local and/or ethnic grievances to embed themselves into communities as well as political borders and differences to escape capture,”
J. Peter Pham, a vice president at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington, told The New York Times. “It was no accident that this attack took place near Niger’s border with Mali, an area that has seen numerous incidents in recent years.”
By Africafrique and agencies