Several Nigerien soldiers and three U.S. soldiers have been killed in an ambush in Niger near the border with Mali, by terrorist group operating in the region, reports also claimed two U.S. soldiers were fatally wounded in the attack.
U.S. Africa Command said the patrol had come under “hostile fire” and was working to confirm the details.
The U.S. army has been providing training to Niger’s army to help combat Islamist militants in the region, including the North African branch of al-Qaeda.
The militants are most active in neighbouring Mali, where French troops intervened in 2013 to prevent them advancing on the capital.
The Boko Haram group, based in Nigeria to the south, has also staged several attacks in Niger.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed by his chief-of-staff, John Kelly, about the attack, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said.
According to the New York Times, quoting a military official, three Army Green Berets – U.S. army special forces – were killed in the ambush which took place 120 miles (193km) north of Niamey, the capital of Niger.
The paper said they were the first American casualties to die from hostile fire since the U.S. Africa Command deployed in Niger.
Two wounded U.S. soldiers are in stable condition and will be flown to Germany for treatment.
An official from Niger’s Tillaberi region told Reuters that five Nigerien soldiers were among the dead.
Officials were unable to say who fired on the soldiers.
Militants belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – an affiliate of al-Qaeda – are active in the region and are known to have conducted cross-border raids.