Mali Announces It Killed Commander Who Killed US Troops in Africa

An Islamic State commander wanted for the deadly attack on US and Nigerian forces in 2017 was killed in an operation carried out by security forces in Mali last Sunday.

The Malian Army confirmed on April 30 that Abu Huzeifa (AKA Higgo), the commander of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, was among those killed during a counter-insurgency operation in the northern Menaka region over the weekend.

Huzeifa was believed to have participated in the 2017 attack in Tongo Tongo, Niger in which four US servicemen and four Nigerian soldiers were killed, making it one of the deadliest attacks on American forces on the African continent.

Following the Niger attack, the Pentagon scaled back its operations south of the Sahara Desert in the Sahel region. The US State Department had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Huzeifa’s capture.

According to the Malian Army, clues gathered at the scene of last Sunday’s operation confirmed that Huzeifa was among the dead.

A commander from the government-allied Tuareg militia confirmed that his forces were also involved in the Menaka operation.

Over the past decade, Mali has been facing a rising insurgency by multiple Islamic groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida. Since 2020, the country also faced two coups as a wave of political violence has swept through Central and West Africa.

Colonel Assimi Goita, who has led Mali since the second coup in 2021, has vowed to eradicate the jihadi insurgency. As part of the effort, the Malian army has sought the assistance of the Russian mercenaries the Wagner Group. Additionally, Mali established a security alliance with its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger which are also facing worsening insurgencies and coups in recent years.

The insurgencies in the three countries have destabilized the Sahel region of central West Africa, killing thousands of people and displacing more than 3 million.

According to experts, the violence in the countries has only worsened under their current regimes, and their security forces have become overstretched in fighting the insurgencies.