Tags: niger | us | mali | conflict | mahamadou issoufou

Three US Green Berets Killed in Niger

Three US Green Berets Killed in Niger

Friday, 06 October 2017 12:16 PM

Three U.S. Green Berets and four Nigerien soldiers were killed in a clash on the Niger-Mali border, where Islamic State fighters have established a presence, officials said Thursday.

A joint U.S.-Niger patrol fell into an ambush on Wednesday in the Tillaberi region in the country's southwest, requiring French Mirage 2000 fighter jets to be called in for air support.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said there were many casualties in the battle, and US Africa Command said two more Special Forces troops were wounded.

The fatal "ambush" also wounded eight Nigerien troops, a statement from Niger's defence ministry said.

Another person from an unnamed country also was killed, according to the Pentagon statement.

"Our country has just been attacked once more by terrorist groups, an assault which sadly has resulted in a large number of casualties," Issoufou said in the capital Niamey.

A French military spokesman said French helicopters had evacuated wounded from the scene and added that the fighting was continuing.

"The Nigerien operation is still ongoing, from what I know," said French Colonel Patrik Steiger.

"It is in the area of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara," he said, using the name of the jihadist group's regional franchise.

The Pentagon said the clash took place approximately 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Niamey. That puts the attack near the border with Mali, where armed jihadists are known to operate.

The two wounded U.S. soldiers were evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where they are in "stable condition," U.S. Africa Command said.

The report confirmed the little-known presence of U.S. troops in the turbulent area, part of the poor and politically fragile Sahel region where jihadist groups are mounting an insurgency.

U.S. troops have increased their presence in Niger in recent years, but this appeared to be their first firefight, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, Joint Staff Director, told reporters in Washington.

"I'm not aware there's been any incident of that nature in the recent past," he said.

"I don't know that they were ambushed," McKenzie said. "There was an engagement. I think we're still gathering information on that."

McKenzie did not give troop numbers but said U.S. forces are there to "train, advise, assist" Niger's government to increase its capability to stand alone against violent extremists.

The U.S. casualties will not alter that goal, he said.

"We're committed to that relationship. We believe that they are as well. In fact I think it's a very good success story."

© AFP 2018

   
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Three U.S. Green Berets and four Nigerien soldiers were killed in a clash on the Niger-Mali border, where Islamic State fighters have established a presence, officials said Thursday.
niger, us, mali, conflict, mahamadou issoufou
411
2017-16-06
Friday, 06 October 2017 12:16 PM
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