Villagers in the remote Niger village of Tongo Tongo say that the body of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson was found bound and wounded in a way that suggested he was captured and executed by militants.
The Washington Post reported that Johnson's body was found roughly a mile from the ambush site where three other U.S. soldiers were killed by suspected Islamic State militants in October.
Johnson's arms were tied behind his back, he had been stripped of his shoes and a gaping wound was found on the back of his head, suggesting that the militants had captured Johnson and executed him, according to the report.
“The back of his head was a mess, as if they had hit him with something hard, like a hammer,” said village chief Mounkaila Alassane. “They took his shoes. He was wearing only socks.”
The operation in Niger that resulted in the death of Johnson and three other soldiers has come under intense scrutiny as to how U.S. troops were ambushed on a mission where risk of enemy contact was said to be low. Five Nigerien soldiers were also killed in the firefight.
Pentagon officials said this week that the investigation into the deadly ambush is expected to be completed in January 2018. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford has pledged transparency and an investigation into the matter.
"We owe you more information; more important, we owe the families of the fallen more information,” Dunford said last month. “That’s what the investigation is designed to identify.”