Washington: Three US Army Special Forces Soldiers were killed and two were injured in an ambush while joint patrolling Southwest Niger. Five Nigerian soldiers were also killed in the ambush.
The attack which happened on Wednesday night accounts for first US combat casualties in the Niger area. Radio France International (RFI) confirmed the news after the statement from the Spokesperson of US Africa Command over a telephonic conversation.
“We can confirm reports that the joint US and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger.”
According to the RFI report, the US and Nigerian troops fell into the trap of attackers from Mali who had earlier wreaked havoc in the village Tongo Tongo, Tillaberi.
The Mali Dispute
Northern Mali has become an area of serious conflict since multiple terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and ISIS have been using it as a place to plan, plot and direct terrorist attacks after the civilian war broke out.
“ISIS and al-Qaeda have taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting, inspiring and directing terror attacks; recruiting and facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters and raising and moving funds to support their operations.”- US Africa Command
The US forces have been deployed in the South West Africa to provide training and support to Nigerian Army in various aspects including intelligence gathering and surveillance.
“U.S. Forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region.
One aspect of that is training, advising and assisting the Nigeriens in order to increase their ability to bring stability and security to their people.” – Said Anthony Falvo, U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. in a statement released to an Associated Press.
Who is Responsible for the Attack?
While no group has taken direct responsibility for the hostile fire that killed three US and five Nigerian Soldiers while injuring two of them, an emerging new group called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has claimed to be the mastermind behind some of the attacks.
However, there is no concrete proof to identify the claim.
US President Donald Trump was briefed by John Kelly, White House Chief Staff while he was flying back from LA after meeting the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the mass killing by Stephen Paddock.
The Wednesday attack might be a retaliation after US Drones struck the ISIS fighters in Libya twice in late September under Trump Administration.
According to RFI reports, a counter-attack is underway where American Troops will help in evacuating the casualties and hunt down the attackers responsible for the ambush.