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Islamic State affiliate claims October attack on U.S. troops in Niger

Islamic State affiliate claims October attack on U.S. troops in Niger

A group in northwestern Africa that is loyal to the Islamic State issued a statement Friday claiming responsibility for the October attack in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers who were on patrol with Nigerien forces.The statement offered no explanation for the delay in claiming responsibility for the Oct. 4 attack, which U.S. officials had said was probably carried out by the group.“We declare our responsibility for the attack on the U.S. commandos last October in the Tongo Tongo region of Niger,” said the statement, attributed to Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, who was a member of al-Qaida’s regional branch before pledging allegiance to the Islamic State nearly two years ago.The statement was issued to reporters at the Nouakchott News Agency, a website in Mauritania to which fighters from Sahraoui’s group have previously sent missives.In addition to the four Americans, including two members of the Green Berets, five Nigerien soldiers who were with them on a joint mission were killed.Details of the attack remain murky, and members of the patrol have given conflicting accounts of it. It is unclear whether the patrol was ambushed, or whether it was attacked after the troops were reassigned to support a separate, clandestine counterterrorism mission against Islamic militants in the area.Aid workers and tourists have long been urged to avoid the area where the attack occurred, near Niger’s border with Mali, because of the presence of al-Qaida- and Islamic State-affiliated groups.The extent of Sahraoui’s ties with the Islamic State is unclear. The website in Mauritania that carried the group’s statement Friday is an outlet favored by Sahraoui’s former colleagues in al-Qaida, not by the Islamic State. The area in which Sahraoui’s group operates contains some of the most forbidding terrain on the planet and cellphone towers are few and far between.“There is a lot we don’t know about how his operation connects back to the mother ship — what’s the connective tissue?” said Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst who has tracked the group for years as a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Islamic State affiliate claims October attack on U.S. troops in Niger

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