Three US Army special operations commandos were killed and two others injured in an ambush in the West African country of Niger, according to a media report. The attack took place 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border with Mali, where militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, have conducted cross-border raids, The New York Times reported.
The deaths represent the first American casualties under hostile fire in a mission in which the United States Special Forces have provided training and security assistance to the Nigerien armed forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. A Special Forces soldier died in a vehicle accident in Niger in February.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on it, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Onboard Air Force One on their way back from Las Vegas. US Africa Command so far has not confirmed the number of casualties except for saying that the joint US and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger. According to some news reports, the joint patrol was probably attacked by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
“We are working to confirm details of the incident and will have more information as soon as we can confirm facts on the ground,” the African Command said. Africa Command said the US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces in their efforts against violent extremists. US 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 organisations 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, United States Africa Command said. The US is building a USD 50 million-drone base in Agadez, Niger. When completed next year, it will allow Reaper surveillance drones to fly from hundreds of miles closer to southern Libya, to monitor Islamic State insurgents flowing south and other extremists flowing north from the Sahel region, the report said.