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4th U.S. servicemember is dead from Wednesday attack in Niger

07 October 2017

In missions run out of a base in the northern Niger town of Arlit and others like the one that led to the ambush of US troops, sources say they have helped local troops and intelligence agents make several arrests.

The identity of the fourth US soldier who died has not yet been released.

The U.S. service member's body was discovered by Nigerien forces roughly 48 hours after he went missing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. It declined to release a name, pending notification of his family.

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According to the sources, one soldier form Niger was also killed in the attack.

The Pentagon says the soldiers, who were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, N.C. The elite soldiers were part of a joint-U.S. and Nigerian train, advise and assist mission, and they came under fire while on a reconnaissance patrol, according to the Defense Department. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, died from wounds sustained during enemy contact.

The American service member, who has been identified by United States military personnel, went missing after a group of USA soldiers near the Niger-Mali border were attacked by up to 50 fighters that are thought to be likely affiliated with ISIS, a U.S. official said. "US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region", the statement said.

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France sent forces at the request of the Malian government and helped drive extremists, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, out of the main towns. Africa Command said the USA forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces in their efforts against violent extremists.

The U.S. has been running Operation Flintlock, an annual counterterrorism operation with regional forces in the Sahel region since 2005 and operates an air base near Niamey, the Nigerien capital, flying drone missions since 2014.

Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad are putting together a 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region.

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"Any time one of the members of our great military are injured, wounded or killed in action, that is certainly something that we take very seriously", she said, adding that "our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals".

4th U.S. servicemember is dead from Wednesday attack in Niger