Thirteen paramilitary police were killed on Saturday (21/10/2017) in a fresh attack in Niger’s restive southwest, just weeks after a deadly ambush on a joint US-Niger patrol.
Yesterday’s dawn raid happened in the town of Ayorou in the Tillaberi region, 200 km northwest of the capital Niamey.
“The Ayorou gendarmerie was the subject of a terrorist attack perpetrated by unidentified armed elements in vehicles and on motorcycles,” said defence ministry spokesman Colonel Amadou Samba Gagara on public television.
“The provisional assessment is as follows: 13 dead soldiers and five others injured.”
A security source said the attackers arrived in five vehicles and fled when military reinforcements arrived. Villagers saw them leave carrying bodies.
A routine patrol went horribly wrong earlier in October when armed fighters attacked a joint Niger and American patrol in the West African country.
The American Defense Department reported that four soldiers were killed in an ambush that occurred near the Niger-Mali border by about 50 fighters from ISIS in the region.
Five local soldiers were also killed on October 6 in Niger, which is just north of Nigeria, south of Algeria, and southwest of Libya. The ambush took place some 2oo km north of the capital of Niamey.
Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright died in the attack, after helping local forces in Niger combat the ISIS fighters.
Initial reports suggested the 12 member US team was leaving a meeting in unarmoured pick-up trucks when they began taking fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, according to a US defense official.
The Green Beret led team had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to the unarmored pick-up trucks when the unexpected ambush resulted in a firefight that lasted 30 minutes until French Mirage jets arrived overhead to fly low passes in an attempt to disperse the attackers.
AFRICOM had warned in March that they do not have the capacity to support ground troops should things go wrong.
The US military’s Africa Command warned that its troops faced increasing risks because it did not have the resources it needed to support its troops as they operated across a vast continent.
It especially called attention to a lack of helicopters and other equipment used for search and rescue should a mission go wrong, reported Esquire
There are approximately 1000 U.S. military personnel in Niger.
Violent extremist groups based in northern Mali and across the Sahel have proven to be resilient, adaptable, and capable of launching cross-border attacks.
They exploit porous borders, have reliable access to weapons, and enjoy relative freedom of movement that enables their attacks.
These terrorists pose a threat to the citizens of Niger and other African nations, and also to U.S. personnel and U.S. interests in Africa, said AFRICOM in a statement.