Defense

Pentagon identifies 3 US soldiers killed in Niger

The Pentagon has identified the three Army Green Berets killed in action Wednesday night in Niger.

Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wash.; Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga., were killed after their patrol came under attack by Mali-based militants.

The three were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The U.S. special forces were on a joint patrol with Nigerien soldiers near Mali's border when they "fell into an ambush set by terrorist elements aboard a dozen vehicles and about twenty motorcycles," Niger's army chief of staff said in a statement.

Four Nigerien soldiers were also killed, eight were wounded and two U.S. soldiers were wounded "after intense fighting, during which elements of the joint force showed exemplary courage," according to the statement.

U.S. Africa Command said in a statement Thursday that the Green Berets were assisting "Nigerien security force counterterror operations" when they were attacked.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack - which occurred about 120 miles north of the capital city of Niamey - but officials suspect Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-linked militants are to blame.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are known to be in Mali and operate in the region, as is Boko Haram, which is based in Nigeria.

Pentagon officials on Thursday revealed few details of the attack and would not say where it took place or what the mission was, citing "ongoing operations."

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