Three members of the US Special Operations Forces were killed and two were wounded in southwest Niger near the Mali-Niger border when a joint US-Nigerien patrol was attacked on October 4, according to The New York Times.
All five soldiers were Green Berets, said US military officials. 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 have conducted cross-border raids. Niger’s troops were also believed to have suffered casualties.
The military officials added that the two wounded US troops had been evacuated to the capital, Niamey, and would soon be moved to Germany. They were described as being in a “stable condition.”
The deaths represent the first US casualties under hostile fire in a mission in which Special Operations Forces provided support and training to the Nigerien armed forces.
The United States has expanded its operations in Niger in recent years, including surveillance drone flights piloted from Niamey. The United States is also finishing construction of a base at Agadez, a central city in the Sahara, that will move flights closer to southern Libya and northern Mali. Closer proximity will allow drone operators more time to monitor remote desert stretches where militants are known to traverse.