Three U.S. Green Berets were killed during an ambush in Niger, a West African nation, on Wednesday.
Two more members of Army special forces were wounded in the ambush, that took place while U.S. troops conducted a joint patrol with Nigerien forces about 120 miles north of the country’s capital, The New York Times reports.
“We can confirm reports that a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger,” said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command.
The attack, more specifically, took place near the border of Mali, a region where al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb operates regularly, and killed three Green Berets, one military official on background told The New York Times.
Two other Green Berets were wounded, another military official noted. The deaths mark the first ever of U.S. special forces to occur in Niger. A small number of special forces operate in the area to train Nigerien fighters, who have been locked in a long fight with Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
“U.S. forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” Falvo told CNN.
Officials from Africa Command are still working to gather more details on the ambush.
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