Islamic militants shot Sgt. La David Johnson in the head, report says

As probe continues, more leaks reveal details about Johnson's death


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – While the U.S. Africa Command continues the investigation into the fatal ambush in Niger that killed Miami Gardens' Sgt. La David Johnson, the Pentagon has released little information. 

Four senior Nigerien officials told ABC News U.S. officials were not being forthcoming about the circumstances of the Oct. 4 attack. They said it was not a reconnaissance mission, but a dangerous "kill or capture" mission.

Adamou Bubaker, who lives in the village of Tongo Tongo, told CBS News that he saw a few armed men on motorcycles before the ambush. He said he knew they were Islamic militants. 

"We thought 'if it's just a few terrorist, the soldiers can kill them easily.' But we didn't know there were so many more of them waiting nearby," Bubaker said. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said 50 Islamic militants ambushed 12 U.S. soldiers and 30 Nigerien soldiers outside of the village. They were ambushed with machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

A soldier recently told CBS News that when villagers found Johnson's body, two days after the attack, he had been stripped of his uniform, his hands were tied and they had shot him in the head. His family was not allowed to have an open-casket viewing service after the military returned his remains to South Florida. 

The Nigerien officials said they had requested additional support. They wanted more soldiers and weapons.The fighters were in unarmored pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and didn't have U.S. air support in an area known as "the red zone."

Reuters reported there is a $100 million drone base in the central Nigerien city of Agadez, but it only deploys surveillance drones. Niger Defense Minister Kalla Mountari told Reuters he asked the U.S. to arm the drones "and use them as needed."

The ambush killed Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and four Nigerien soldiers. CBS News reported that children from the village -- and not soldiers -- found Sgt. La David Johnson's body about half a mile away from where the ambush took place. 

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