>> Troops in Niger, with the aid of France, planning a counterattack against insurgents Thursday, after three US Army Special Forces members were killed in Niger, the first American soldiers to die in West Africa in decades. The US troops, there along with the French to help train Nigerian forces, were ambushed by militants Wednesday, north of the capital city of Niamey.
At least one Nigerian soldier was also killed and two other US servicemen wounded. Reuters Diplomatic Correspondent, Warren Strobel, has spent time in the region with US forces.>> So having experienced and been embedded with these forces two years ago, I was really surprised by this incident in which three US soldiers were killed, because the mission there is to keep it very low-profile.
The US troops are on a small base of their own, which in turn is situated on a much larger Nigerian base. They do go out and mix with the population somewhat. But their job is to sort of be in the background and to put the Niger forces in the front as it were, and to help, and advise, and assist them.
>> A Western security source says the main suspects are Al Qaeda and a relatively new group called, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, although no one has yet claimed responsibility. Boko Haram remains another threat in Niger, where roughly 800 US troops are stationed.>> In the case of Boko Haram, you had people who went over and joined Boko Haram, and then quit the group, and came back, and spent time in prison in Niger.
And it's never quite sure whether they really quit the group entirely. So it's hard to tell who a good guy or bad guy is. And of course, the ethnic, and tribal, and historical, and cultural makeup there is very complex, and I think hard for US forces to completely wrap their head around.
>> Repeated violence by armed groups in Niger led President Mahamadou Issoufou in March to declare a state of emergency in parts of the country. Issoufou condemning this latest attack in a speech on Thursday.