Pentagon faces demands for details on attack in Niger
The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended itself, saying an investigation would eventually offer clarity.
Among the unresolved inquiries: Why were the Americans apparently caught by surprise? Why did it take two additional days to recover one of the four bodies after the shooting stopped? Was the Islamic State responsible?
The confusion over what happened in a remote corner of Niger, where few Americans travel, has increasingly dogged President Donald Trump, who was silent about the deaths for more than a week.
Asked why, Trump on Monday turned the topic into a political tussle by crediting himself with doing more to honor the dead and console their families than any of his predecessors. His subsequent boast that he reaches out personally to all families of the fallen was contradicted by interviews with family members, some of whom had not heard from Trump at all.
The deadly ambush in Niger occurred Oct. 4 as Islamic militants on motorcycles, toting rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, seized on a U.S. convoy and shattered the windows of their unarmored trucks. In addition to those killed, two Americans were wounded. No extremist group has claimed responsibility.
The attack is under official military investigation, as is normal for a deadly incident.