Friday, August 17News That Matters

Pentagon releases video of deadly Niger assault

May 17 (UPI) — The Pentagon released video Thursday depicting the ambush that left four U.S. soldiers dead in Niger in October.

The 23-minute video includes footage of the body of Sgt. La David Johnson being recovered from under a thorn tree two days after he was killed in an ambush by the Islamic State.

Evidence from the scene indicates Johnson was separated from his unit and attempted to get to a safe position before being overrun and killed.

Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright also died along with at least five Nigerien soldiers. Americans Sgt. 1st Class Brent Bartels and David Trachtenberg, a senior defense official, sustained injuries in the ambush.

The newly released footage shows a group of seven American and four Nigerien troops escaped the ambush after several minutes and fled into a swamp. A U.S. military narrator explains they all believed they were going to be killed.

“They wrote short messages to loved ones on personal devices, believing they would soon be overrun,” the narrator said.

It also detailed what occurred when another Nigerien military team arrived to rescue the troops, but mistook them for IS fighters. The narrator states the team fired on the troops for 48 seconds with automatic weapons until they were positively identified, but no one was further injured.

The video also includes about 11 minutes of footage released on May 10 alongside an eight-page summary the Defense Department published of its months-long investigation by U.S. Africa Command.

The original video included an edited recreation of the battle based on 143 witnesses and one survivor of the attack who revisited the scene of the battlefield to assist the probe.

In the report, Pentagon investigators blamed multiple “individual, organizational and institutional failures” for the ambush.

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