Niger may have arrested militant leader Chefou

2018-04-18 15:45
iStock

iStock (iStock)

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

Niger's military has detained a suspect who could be the militant leader who was being pursued at the time of an ambush that left four American soldiers dead.

US Ambassador Eric P Whitaker told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he does not know the identity of the detained suspect, but that the head of Niger's special forces is hopeful it's a known extremist leader.

At the time of the deadly October ambush, US forces and their counterparts from the Niger military were pursuing Doundou Chefou, a militant suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American aid worker.

Whitaker says security forces in Niger have been detaining suspected extremists in the country's western Tillabéri region. Authorities on Tuesday are awaiting identification of whether the man in custody is Chefou.

"Detentions by Nigerian forces are ongoing," Whitaker said.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook 

A US investigation into the October ambush, which was claimed by fighters linked to the Islamic State group, has not yet been released.

"Regrettably, they were ambushed by ISIS Greater Sahara forces," said Whitaker.

US officials familiar with the military investigation into the Niger ambush said last month that it concluded the team didn't get required senior command approval for their risky mission to capture Chefou. As a result, commanders couldn't accurately assess the mission's risk, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the results of the not-yet-released investigation.

The investigation finds no single point of failure leading to the attack, which occurred after the soldiers learned Chefou had left the area. It also draws no conclusion about whether villagers in Tongo Tongo, where the US team stopped for water and supplies, alerted ISIS militants to American forces in the area. Still, questions remain about whether higher-level commanders — if given the chance — would have approved the mission, or provided additional resources for it.

Before October, there had not been any major incursion like that into Niger before, said the commander of Special Operations Command Africa, Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, who warned that the extremist threat has been marching south in the Sahel at an unprecedented level.

Threats in the region include al-Qaida-linked fighters in Mali and Burkina Faso, Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in Niger, Mali and Nigeria and the Nigeria-based Boko Haram. All take advantage of the vast region's widespread poverty and poorly equipped security forces.

US special operations forces have been advising local troops on the continent for years, just under 1 000 across Africa.

Even before the October attack, the US began to shift away from assisting tactical units on the front lines toward training, advising and assisting farther up the chain of command at the battalion level, Hicks said.

Read more on:    isis  |  niger  |  us  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
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.