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Pentagon: Niger Attack Probe Results Expected in 2018

In this photo released by the U.S. Army on March 9, 2017, U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers observe as Nigerien armed forces service members fire their weapons with the assistance of illumination rounds during an exercise in Diffa, Niger. Four U.S. servicemen were killed in the country during an ambush by militants last month.

The U.S. military says a formal investigation into last month’s deadly ambush in Niger is not expected to be completed until January.

The military investigation team, led by Army Major Gen. Roger Cloutier, will travel to the U.S., Africa and Europe to collect information needed to determine what happened during the October 4 attack, according to a Pentagon statement issued late Wednesday.

Family members of the deceased Americans have been notified of the investigation timeline, the Pentagon added.

Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials said Islamic State fighters ambushed their forces on October 4, killing four American soldiers, four Nigerien soldiers and a Nigerien interpreter.

A group of 12 members of a U.S. Special Operations Task Force accompanied 30 Nigerien forces on a reconnaissance mission from the capital, Niamey, to an area near the village of Tongo Tongo.

Members if the team had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their vehicles when they were attacked, U.S. officials told VOA.

The soldiers said the meeting ran late, and some suspected the villagers were intentionally delaying their departure, one of the officials said.