Three Army Special Forces soldiers killed, two wounded in Niger

A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes a Niger Army soldier during marksmanship training as part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Feb. 28, 2017. Niger was one of seven locations to host tactical-level training during the exercise while staff officers tested their planning abilities at a simulated multinational headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Klutts/released)

U.S. military officials report that  Three United States Army Special Forces were killed and two were wounded in an ambush in Niger.

The soldiers were on a routine patrol with the local troops they were training when they were ambushed on Wednesday, according to the New York Times.

“We can confirm reports that a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger,” Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said in an email on Wednesday.

A official told the NY Times the attack occurred 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border of Mali.

The Department of Defense has not stated who conducted the ambush but the Times reports militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, have conducted cross-border raids near Niamey.

The New York Times released the information about the three fatalities and two casualties before officials made the information public. The newspaper reports the two official they spoke with spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the casualties publicly.

The deaths are the first American casualties a part of the training and security assistance to the Nigerien armed forces mission.

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