An ISIS offshoot group is claiming it carried out the October attack in Niger that killed four U.S. troops and four Nigerian soldiers, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.
“We claim the attack which targeted the American commandos in the village of Tongo Tongo,” Abu al-Walid al-Sahrawi, leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, told Mauritania’s independent Nouakchott News Agency.
The U.S. Africa Command is investigating the attack, which also wounded two U.S. and eight Nigerian soldiers, and a final report is expected to be released later in the month, according to the AP.
Reuters reports that the attack occurred in a densely wooded area near the village of Tongo Tongo. A 12-member U.S. special forces unit was with 30 Nigerian soldiers when they were ambushed by militants armed traveling by vehicle with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The AP reports that so far, the Pentagon has declined to release information about the team’s mission. U.S. officials have said the joint U.S.-Niger patrol was assisting in a search for a senior Islamic State group member.
Roughly 800 U.S. troops are stationed within the region to assist Niger’s forces in the fight against extremists and threats from Boko Haram, which has reportedly pledged loyalty to ISIS, and al-Qaeda forces in the area.
This is not the first time the Mauritanian news agency has reported on the Sahara-based Islamist fighters. According to Reuters, the agency reported Thursday that the group was responsible for a car bomb on French troops near Mali’s city of Menaka and, last year, reported that Mali’s main jihadist groups had merged.
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