By Ben Wolfgang – The Washington Times
A U.S. vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Niger on Saturday, Pentagon officials said, in an incident that once again shines a spotlight on America’s military presence in the African country.
U.S. Africa Command said that the American mine-resistant, all-terrain vehicle hit an IED while entering a firing range near the town of Ouallam in southwestern Niger. No U.S. service members were killed or injured.
U.S. and Nigerien partner forces were conducting a training exercise when the explosion occurred, officials said.
“Niger is a vital partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations. U.S. forces are in Niger to work by, with, and through Nigerien partners to promote stability and security while enabling them to address their security threats,” U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, said in a statement Sunday. “Nigerien partner forces have secured the scene and are assessing the incident.”
While no Americans were killed, the weekend’s IED strike is likely to again raise questions about the U.S. role inside Niger. In October 2017, four American soldiers were killed in a firefight with Islamic militants, and the incident raised questions about the U.S. role inside the country.
Military officials on Sunday said the U.S. stands by its mission of training and partnering with Nigerien forces.
U.S. Africa command is committed to our relationship with our Nigerien partner forces in our efforts to counter threats and foster prosperity in the region,” AFRICOM said.