US troops in Niger set up drone base

2013-02-23 10:20
A US Predator drone. (File, AP)

A US Predator drone. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama said on Friday that about 100 American troops have been deployed to the African nation of Niger. Two US defence officials the troops would be setting up a base for unarmed drones to conduct surveillance.

Obama announced the deployment in a letter to Congress, saying that the forces "will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region."

The move marks a deepening of US efforts to stem the spread of al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the volatile region. It also underscores Obama's desire to fight extremism without involving large numbers of US ground forces.

The drone base will allow the US to give France more intelligence on the militants its forces have been fighting in Mali, which neighbours Niger. Over time, it could extend the reach not only of American intelligence-gathering but also US special operations missions to strengthen Niger's own security forces.

One of the two US defence officials who discussed the development confirmed the American troops would fly drones and other surveillance platforms from Niger military airstrips, tracking militant and refugee movement inside Mali and around the border. The US will share that intelligence with Niger's military, the official said.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the project.

The drones at the Niger base will be unarmed and used for surveillance, not air strikes. Still, the development of a base in Niger raises the possibility that it could eventually be used for launching strikes.

Obama said in his letter to Congress that the US forces have been deployed with the consent of Niger's government. The forces were also deployed with weapons "for their own force protection and security," the president said.

Last month, the US and Niger signed a status-of-forces-agreement spelling out legal protections and obligations of American forces that might operate in Niger in the future.

Africa is increasingly a focus of US counter-terrorism efforts, even as al-Qaeda remains a threat in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Last month's terrorist attack on a natural gas complex in Algeria, in which at least 37 hostages and 29 militants were killed, illustrated the threat posed by extremists who have asserted power propelled by long-simmering ethnic tensions in Mali and the revolution in Libya.

A number of al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremist groups operate in Mali and elsewhere in the Sahara, including a group known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which originated in Algeria and is active in northern Mali. Last month, French forces intervened to stop the extremists' move toward Mali's capital, and Washington has grown more involved by providing a variety of military support to French troops.

France has said it will eventually pull out of its Mali operation so that African forces can help stabilize the West African country.

- AP
Read more on:    aqim  |  al-qaeda  |  niger  |  us  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.

/News
 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Business Intelligence Developer

Cape Town
E-Merge IT Recruitment
R500 000 Per Year

Systems Analyst (Tygervalley)

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Navy Blue Suits
R40 000 - R45 000 Per Month

Accounts Assistant

Cape Town CBD
Evolution Recruitment
R8 000 - R10 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big thing....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.