Niger ambush probe to last until at least January: Pentagon

Washington - An investigation into an ambush that resulted in the deaths of four US soldiers in Niger early October will not conclude until at least January 2018, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

The families of the four soldiers "were informed that the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)'s investigation team will travel to locations in the US, Africa and Europe to gather information related to the investigation," the Department of Defense said in a statement.

They were also told the probe is expected to be completed in January 2018 - but they will be informed if officials find they need extra time.

The investigation will be led by Major General Roger Cloutier, AFRICOM's chief of staff.

The ambush occurred on October 4 as unit of 12 American special forces soldiers and 30 Nigerien troops returned from a village called Tongo Tongo near the border with Mali, according to General Joe Dunford, the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

They were attacked by a group of some 50 fighters affiliated with the Islamic State group and equipped with small arms, grenades and trucks mounted with guns.

Four American soldiers were killed along with at least five Nigerien troops. The Pentagon has remained tight-lipped in the face of speculation about the circumstances surrounding the ambush and the nature of the mission in Niger.

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