Three members of the U.S. Army Special Forces are dead and two others wounded, officials say, after an ambush in the West African country of Niger.
According to Fox News, eight or 10 Green Beret soldiers were "ambushed in a rural area about 125 miles north of Niger’s capital, Niamey, near the border with Mali."
The ambush was not part of a raid or attack operation, a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told media.
"It was a routine patrol in order to train the Nigerien forces," the official said. "It was not a raid."
It is unclear which group, of several potential suspects, carried out the attack. Multiple terrorist groups with ISIS affiliations, including Al Qaeda (in the Islamic Maghreb), are known to operate in the area.
Fox News has more:
It is not clear if any U.S. aircraft were overhead at the time. Niger does not allow armed drones to take off from a base shared with the United States.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump had been briefed on the ambush by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
According to Africa Command, the U.S. Special Forces were in Niger to train the Nigerien Armed Forces in how to handle Islamic extremists. Considered one of the poorest countries in the world, Niger has been wracked with extremist activity in recent years. As a result, the U.S. State Department was forced to issue a travel warning for the country's border regions where the attack happened.
"Due to security concerns and travel restrictions, the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in remote and rural areas is very limited," the travel warning read. "There is a high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups including AQIM, which has kidnapped Westerners and threatened U.S. citizens in Niger."
The two Green Berets wounded in the ambush are both "expected to pull through" after recovering from what were at first considered "life-threatening" injuries. May the three others who lost their lives in service of this country rest in peace.
Below is a list of terrorist incidents provided by the British government that have unfolded in Niger in recent years:
-- March 6, 2017: A terrorist attack at Wanzarbé, southwest Niger, resulted in the deaths of five Nigerien soldiers.
-- Feb. 22, 2017: An attack on the Nigerien army in the Tillabéri region resulted in the deaths of 16 soldiers and injuries to 17.
-- Oct. 17, 2016: A high-security prison near the border between Niger and Mali was attacked.
-- Oct. 14, 2016: An American aid worker was kidnapped in Abalak, a province of the region of Tahoua 350 km northeast of Niamey.
-- Oct. 6, 2016: An attack by violent extremists on a Malian refugee camp in Tazalit, near the Malian border, resulted in the deaths of 22 Nigerien soldiers
-- June 2016: An attack by Boko Haram on the town of Bosso left 32 dead and many more injured or displaced.
-- Feb. 8, 2015: An explosion in the town of Diffa resulted in several deaths and injuries.
-- Feb. 6, 2015: Nigerien and Chadian military forces were attacked by Boko Haram in the towns of Bosso and Diffa.