Niger updates death toll from militant attack to 7

Three US troops killed in Niger

Three US troops killed in Niger

- Four U.S. Army special forces soldiers and four Niger troops were killed in an ambush in Niger this week, according to U.S. authorities.

After an extensive search, a USA soldier who had been missing for almost two days in Niger has been found dead, a result of a deadly ambush by dozens of Islamic extremists on a joint patrol of American and Niger forces, US military officials said Friday.

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

Some officials originally suspected the attack was the work of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

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USA officials say an American soldier missing for almost two days in Niger has been found dead. The officials were not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

At a Pentagon press conference Thursday, Lt. Gen. Ken McKenzie, director of the USA military's Joint Staff, declined to provide many details of the attack, saying operations were still ongoing.

USA forces have expanded efforts in Niger, military officials have said, as part of a growing presence in the Sahel region.

USA officials described a chaotic assault in a densely wooded area, as 40-50 extremists in vehicles and on motorcycles fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the patrol, setting off explosions and shattering windows. Despite the intervention of French troops in 2013 that pushed the extremists from their strongholds in northern Mali, they continue attacks.

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Still, the government said that figure was artificially inflated by the loss of so many lower-paid workers in hurricane-hit areas. Meanwhile, the health care industry grew by 23,000 jobs last month, in line with its monthly gains in the previous year .

Niger and Mali serve as bridges between north and south Africa.

According to the New York Times, the US troops are the first casualties to succumb to the attacks since the US Africa Command was set up in Niger.

CNN identifies at least three that Niger and the US are fighting: "Islamic State in Greater Sahara, the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram and al Qaeda's North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb". The officials said the two wounded were taken to Niamey, the capital, and are described as stable.

The incident also underscores the extent to which Niger and several of its troubled neighbors, including Mali and Nigeria, remain a priority in US counterterrorism efforts, although President Donald Trump offered lukewarm support for a French initiative in June to boost worldwide forces in the region. The U.S. has also provided aircraft and military hardware to Niger in recent years. "I don't have the exact numbers, but yeah, because Niger is an important partner of ours". "We have a great opportunity there to do train, advise, assist, to do a variety of things with them to help them stand on their own two feet".

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