A snip from the CRS Insight, Attack on U.S. Soldiers in Niger: Context and Issues for Congress (Oct. 5, 22017 IN10797):
On October 4, four members of U.S. Special Operations Forces were killed and two wounded in an attack in western Niger, an emerging hot spot of Islamist extremist activity. The Defense Department (DOD) stated in a briefing on October 5 that the U.S. servicemembers were “conducting an advise and assist mission” with local counterparts, several of whom were also killed. The identity of perpetrators has not been confirmed. The incident has highlighted evolving security threats in West Africa’s Sahel region, as well as the growing presence of U.S. military forces engaged in counterterrorism support in Africa. The situation in Niger poses issues for Congress pertaining to oversight of U.S. policy toward fragile states in the Sahel, U.S. security assistance and foreign aid, and U.S. counterterrorism activities abroad. If an Islamist armed group was responsible, as some reports suggest, this would be the first known incident in which such a group has killed U.S. soldiers on active duty in the Sahel.