It was a gloomy day for the US Army Special Forces troops in Niger last Wednesday when Nigerien militants ambushed US soldiers on patrol in the country. The slain soldiers, with their trainee Nigerien troops, were on a routine patrol when they were ambushed.
Three US soldiers were killed while two sustained various degrees of injury, and all were a part of the elite Green Berets division of U.S special forces command.
After the news of the deadly ambush that took place close to the Niger/Mali border was reported by Radio France International (RFI), the attack was later confirmed by a mouthpiece for US Africa Command.
An official from the Tillaberi region near the Niger/Mali border, Namata Abubacar said that the mortality included five local soldiers. The two wounded American soldiers have been taken to Niamey, the country’s capital where they are said to be responding to treatment. A US official said the soldiers are now in stable condition.
In recent years, African security forces have been trying to curtail the activities of terrorist groups in the continent, namely ISIS in the Maghreb and other militant groups.
With the assistance of Western troops, African coalition is making frantic efforts to negate the activities of some jihadist groups that are gradually becoming a menace in the Sahel, the transitionary region between the Sahara and the jungles.
ISIS has attacked various historical sites in neighboring Mali, including the historical site of Timbuktu.
In a chat with the New York Times, the vice president of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center in Washington, J. Peter Pham said that the militants have over the years proven their resilience beyond measure. In the process, they have exploited ethnic differences in the region to infiltrate political borders and communities. That has afforded them the opportunity to perpetuate their terrorist acts and carefully escape capture.
Mr. Pham did not see the attack as a one-time affair. Rather, he considered it as one of the numerous attacks by terrorist groups on different parts of the continent.
Pham’s claims should not be taken lightly considering the huge traffic of terrorism in the continent over the years. The continent has a heavy presence of terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda, an Islamist militant group that that equally operates in the Niger/Mali border.
Since the intervention of French troops that prevented the militant groups from getting Mali’s capital in 2013, most of the militant groups have turned the border into their base.
Another militant group that has terrorized the region in recent years is Boko Haram from Nigeria who has staged several deadly attacks in Nigeria.
A new militant group in the region, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, has responded swiftly and claimed responsibility for the attacks.
President Donald Trump received the news aboard Air Force One from Las Vegas to Washington. Sarah Sanders, White House spokesman said that the president was notified by John Kelly, his chief-of-staff.
Despite the attack, there are still around 500 of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) troops in the region. Most are involved with offering training and intelligence gathering and training assistance to Niger’s army at one of the country’s air facilities located in Algadez.