Niger updates death toll from militant attack to 7

Kristopher Drake
October 7, 2017

The Department of Defense has released the identities of three soldiers who were killed during a mission in Niger on Wednesday, October 4.

The soldier, whose name has not been released, was one of four USA troops and four Niger forces killed in the attack.

Eight other Nigeriens were wounded, as were two members of the USA forces who are providing training to the Nigerien Army on combating extremists in the region.

The mixed force was ambushed by fighters on dozens of vehicles and motorcycles.

McKenzie said he was not prepared to say whether IS was increasing its presence in the region or if it was responsible for the attack.

"Our country is once again the target of a terrorist attack, with a large number of victims", he said.

Eight Niger soldiers and two USA troops were wounded in the attack, but they were evacuated from the area on Wednesday after the attack unfolded.

US officials say they believe extremists linked to ISIS were responsible for the attack about 200 kilometers north of Niger's capital of Niamey.

"Niger is an important partner of ours, we have a deep relationship with them", Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.

A USA military official said the US military has been operating in that area to help the local forces fight terrorism and to disrupt these rat lines. The U.S. has also provided aircraft and military hardware to Niger in recent years.

He said there were about a dozen USA forces accompanying a company of Niger troops, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission.

The group and its ally, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, also claimed responsibility for an attack in on a hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, a year ago that killed 30 people.

Islamist militants, including al-Qaeda fighters, operate in the region.

The White House said President Donald Trump was notified about the attack Wednesday night as he flew aboard Air Force One from Las Vegas to Washington.

That force will operate in the region along with a 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has become the deadliest in the world for United Nations peacekeepers, and France's 5,000-strong Barkhane military operation, its largest overseas mission. The force gained U.N. Security Council backing in June but lacks funding.

In Niger, Washington has deployed around 800 soldiers, runs a drone base in the capital Niamey and is building a second in Agadez at a cost of around $100 million.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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