Defense

Fourth US troop confirmed dead in Niger attack

A fourth U.S. service member was killed in this week's attack in Niger, the Pentagon said Friday.

"The body of another U.S. service member has been recovered from the area of the attack, bringing the number of U.S. service members killed in this attack to four," Col. Robert Manning said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the deceased. We will share more information as it becomes available related to this attack."

The Pentagon previously identified three Green Berets killed in the Wednesday attack.

The fourth service member killed reportedly went missing after the attack.

The attack, 120 miles north of the capital city of Niamey, happened as U.S. special forces were on a joint patrol with Nigerien soldiers near Mali's border. 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.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials suspect militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The attack has shined a light on the U.S. presence in Niger, where the United States has about 800 troops and a drone base.

On Thursday, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. said the number of U.S. troops there has increased in recent years.

"I would say that over the last few years we have increased our military presence in that country," McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon. "It depends on how far back you look. I don't have the exact numbers, but yeah, because Niger is an important partner of ours."

In the same briefing, he and Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White offered few details of Wednesday's attack, citing "ongoing operations."

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