US military investigating Niger ambush Twitter posts

Picture allegedly from Oct. 4 ambush scrutinized

By BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT
US Defense Department

The US is assisting Niger authorities in the investigation of the deaths of four servicemen. Pictured from left to right is Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The US military is continuing to investigate posts on Twitter claiming to show the aftermath of an October ambush of US troops in Niger in which four soldiers died.

US Africa Command which is overseeing the investigation issued a brief statement saying it "is aware of a post on Twitter purporting to show a US Soldier from the October 4 ambush in Tongo Tongo, Niger. We are reviewing the post and determining the veracity of the tweet and the assertions that there is an associated video."

Officially the military is not confirming that there is video and separately that there are still images which analysts believe may show some of the Americans killed in combat. The military typically asks the media not to show images where dead US troops on the battlefield may be visible and identifiable by their loved ones.

The images, where they came from, and who is in possession of the original media, are now part of the investigation being conducted by Africa Command. It's an indication that even as the investigation is wrapping up, new material for investigators to examine is coming to light. It is not known yet if the images provide any significant new information that could change the course of the investigation.

The Pentagon had hoped to have the investigation completed with a declassified version made available to the public by the end of January. But several defense officials said it's now not likely to emerge before the second half of February due in part to the complexity of getting information declassified.

Two officials said that under standard procedures some military personnel mentioned in the report may be given a final opportunity to look at the conclusions. This would potentially happen if those personnel are being recommended for disciplinary action. Procedures would potentially allow them to add their statements or clarifications.

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