Niger Allows U.S. to Deploy Armed Drones Against Militants

(Bloomberg) -- Niger permitted the U.S. to use armed drones in the fight against Islamist militants in the West African nation, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Defense Minister Kalla Moutari.

Drone strikes will be a “decisive and key response” to highly armed combatants in the Sahel region, Moutari was quoted as saying on state-owned radio. The U.S. currently deploys unmanned surveillance craft in Niger, which has previously been reluctant to allow the use of armed drones.

While Niger doesn’t have known jihadist groups in its territory, it’s increasingly affected by the spread of Islamist militancy in West Africa. Four U.S. troops and five Nigerian soldiers died on Oct. 4 when their convoy in the Tillabery region was ambushed. 

Last month’s attack highlighted U.S. military involvement in Niger, where it has as many as 800 troops and is building a drone and airbase in the northern city of Agadez.

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