Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


US troops in Niger set up drone base

23 February 2013, 15:24Kimberly Dozier

Washington - President Barack Obama said on Friday that about 100 American troops have been deployed to the African nation of Niger. Two US defence officials the troops would be setting up a base for unarmed drones to conduct surveillance.

Obama announced the deployment in a letter to Congress, saying that the forces "will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region."

The move marks a deepening of US efforts to stem the spread of al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the volatile region. It also underscores Obama's desire to fight extremism without involving large numbers of US ground forces.

The drone base will allow the US to give France more intelligence on the militants its forces have been fighting in Mali, which neighbours Niger. Over time, it could extend the reach not only of American intelligence-gathering but also US special operations missions to strengthen Niger's own security forces.

One of the two US defence officials who discussed the development confirmed the American troops would fly drones and other surveillance platforms from Niger military airstrips, tracking militant and refugee movement inside Mali and around the border. The US will share that intelligence with Niger's military, the official said.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the project.

The drones at the Niger base will be unarmed and used for surveillance, not air strikes. Still, the development of a base in Niger raises the possibility that it could eventually be used for launching strikes.

Obama said in his letter to Congress that the US forces have been deployed with the consent of Niger's government. The forces were also deployed with weapons "for their own force protection and security," the president said.

Last month, the US and Niger signed a status-of-forces-agreement spelling out legal protections and obligations of American forces that might operate in Niger in the future.

Africa is increasingly a focus of US counter-terrorism efforts, even as al-Qaeda remains a threat in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Last month's terrorist attack on a natural gas complex in Algeria, in which at least 37 hostages and 29 militants were killed, illustrated the threat posed by extremists who have asserted power propelled by long-simmering ethnic tensions in Mali and the revolution in Libya.

A number of al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremist groups operate in Mali and elsewhere in the Sahara, including a group known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which originated in Algeria and is active in northern Mali. Last month, French forces intervened to stop the extremists' move toward Mali's capital, and Washington has grown more involved by providing a variety of military support to French troops.

France has said it will eventually pull out of its Mali operation so that African forces can help stabilize the West African country.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...