A U.S. soldier killed by Islamic militants in Niger was shot 18 times and appeared to have fought back until he died, a military investigation reveals.
U.S. officials briefed the Associated Press on the still-to-be-finalized and released report on the October ambush that killed Army Sergeant La David Johnson. Three other U.S. soldiers also died in the attack near Niger's border with Mali.
Confusion has surrounded circumstances of the ambush and Johnson's death, including why his body was found nearly two kilometers from the attack site, and why it took two days to find his remains.
According to the AP, military officials say Johnson and two soldiers from Niger tried to get away from the ambush by running to a nearby jeep, but were shot before they got to the vehicle.
The report says Johnson was very athletic and was able to run farther than the others. He took cover under some brush and, according to the evidence, fired back at the militants until the moment he died. He was hit at least 18 times.
The report will likely answer several questions, including why it took so long for U.S. forces to recover Johnson's body and clear up media reports saying that Islamic militants had held him prisoner.
Pentagon officials believe a villager tipped off militants that U.S. forces were in the region as part of a joint U.S. - Niger patrol hunting for an Islamic State leader who also has ties to al-Qaida.
Sergeant Johnson's death also created a major controversy for President Donald Trump, who told Johnson's widow during a condolence phone call that the sergeant "knew what he signed up for" when he joined the army.
Myeshia Johnson said the president struggled to remember her dead husband's name during the call and that his tone brought her no comfort.
Trump tweeted that he was very respectful to Mrs. Johnson.