US confirms drones in Niger have striking capabilities

July 29, 2018 - 9:21 am

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United States Africa Command says the U.S. started arming drones in the Central African nation of Niger earlier this year.

Samantha Reho, U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman, told The Associated Press the decision was made in coordination with Niger's government to "improve our combined ability to respond to threats and other security issues in the region." She said armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft began flying in Niger in early 2018.

The armed drones are currently deployed to Niger's Air Base 101 in Niamey while awaiting the completion of the new Air Base 201 outside Agadez in the country's north.

The Sahel faces extremist threats including al-Qaida-linked fighters in Mali and Burkina Faso, Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in Niger, Mali and Nigeria and Nigeria-based Boko Haram.

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