Tense moments in Niger after killing of US soldier
The Niger killing of US soldiers in October continues to generate anxiety both in the US and Nigeria. The deaths pointed to the volatility to be found in the region and the incubating radical Islamic terrorist groups active in the country.
As details of the death of US special forces Sgt La David T Johnson emerge, the presence and activities of the terrorist cells in Niger continues to raise anxiety levels both within the west African region and in the West.
Reports say that David T Johnson, 25, of Florida died 4 October when a 12-man US special forces team accompanying local troops in a search for a senior Islamic State leader, were attacked in a densely wooded area. The attack by over 50 militants about 120 miles north of Niamey came after a tip-off about the presence of US commandos to terrorist groups.
In the attack Johnson, an athletic man, ran for cover and became separated from the rest of his team. He was pinned down with two Niger soldiers and all three were shot at as they tried to reach safety.
Officials said a number of enemy shells around Johnson, indicated that he fought to the end. Johnson was hit 18 times by fire from M-4 rifles and Soviet-made heavy machine guns, as he took cover in thick brush. His boots and other equipment were later stolen, but he was still wearing his uniform.
Four US soldiers, Staff Sg. Bryan C Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt Jeremiah W Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt Dustin M Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia, and four Niger soldiers were killed in the ambush. A further two US and four Niger soldiers were injured.
President Donald Trump, was accused of being insensitive during a condolence call to the soldier’s wife in October, by a Democratic congresswoman from Florida when Trump reportedly told Johnson’s pregnant widow, in a phone call that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”
“Whichever way you look at this, the church in West Africa must be very worried,” said the Venerable Mark Mukan, Missions Operations Coordinator in Nigeria’s north-east region. “We know the character of Islamic Jihadi groups. We have seen what ISIS has done to Christians, what Boko Haram is doing and the devastation still going on by Fulani herdsmen. All these operate and have free access from Nigeria to Niger, Mali and most of the region. That is why we are watching the development closely because all these impact on our missionaries in these regions,” Mukan told Global Christian News.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos
Image Credit: CC/Google images/Johnson/ Alqaeda propaganda image