Joint military operations by Niger, U.S., France conducted in Niger

Joint military operations by Niger, the U.S. and France were conducted on Thursday near the Nigerien border with Mali, a day after an attack by unidentified assailants which killed 8 soldiers – three American and five Nigerien, security sources said.

The attack also left two other U.S. soldiers wounded.

It took place during a routine patrol in a part of southwestern Niger, a region known to be infested by Islamist militant groups.

Mali’s defence ministry confirmed that military operations were conducted within Niger, and that Malian forces had reinforced their checkpoints along the border.

The attackers are reported to have come from Mali.

Islamist troops form part of a growing insurgency in the sparsely populated deserts of West Africa’s Sahel.

They have often attacked United Nations’ peacekeepers, Malian soldiers as well as civilians.

The wounded U.S. soldiers from Wednesday’s attack were evacuated to the Nigerien capital, Niamey, and would be flown to Germany. Health officials said they are in stable condition.