June 10 (UPI) — An improvised explosive device damaged a U.S. tactical vehicle in western Niger, with no casualties reported by U.S. Africa Command.
On Saturday, an MATV, or mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicle, was entering a firing range in the vicinity of Ouallam during a training exercise with Nigerian partner forces when the explosion occurred, the command said Sunday.
Although there were no reported fatalities, U.S. service members were being evaluated as a precaution.
Originally Africa Command reported the incident occurred in the firing range.
Nigerien partner forces have secured the scene and are assessing the incident.
Four service members from an undisclosed branch unit were in the vehicle, Air Force Col. Christopher Karns, an AFRICOM spokesman, told Military Times.
U.S. forces are working with Nigerien force to promote stability and security in efforts against violent extremist organizations.
“Niger is a vital partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations,” according to a news release. “U.S. Africa command is committed to our relationship with our Nigerien partner forces in our efforts to counter threats and foster prosperity in the region.”
Ouallam is near the location that four U.S. Green Berets died during an ambush in the village of Tongo Tongo on Oct. 4, 2017, by Islamic militants, who also killed four Nigerien soldiers in the joint patrol force. They were were returning to their base after a stop in the village.
Several junior and mid-grade officers and enlisted personnel were reprimanded for the incident in which the militants used machine guns and small arms. An initial Defense Department investigation cited organizational failures and a lack of proper training for that particular combat situation.
The Pentagon said nine valor medals for heroic actions will be given in connection to the attack.