The four U.S. soldiers killed last month in an ambush were helping track and fight Islamist militants along the Mali-Niger border in the hours before their death, according to the nation’s defense minister and a wounded Nigerien soldier who survived the attack.
The accounts raise questions about the Pentagon’s assertions that the American and Nigerien troops were on a low-risk reconnaissance mission and that chances of contact with militants were unlikely. They were, instead, operating in a dangerous and complex battle zone, where attacks happen frequently. U.S. troops are in Niger to train and advise, military officials have said, not to engage in combat missions.
The Pentagon has said it is investigating whether the soldiers’ stated mission had changed.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Sudarsan Raghavan