FIRST ON FOX – U.S. troops in the West African country of Chad are ‘accounted for’ after multiple reports of gunfire and five alleged deaths, Fox News Digital has learned.  Various videos have been posted on social media which show rifles and even what appears to be truck-mounted heavy weapons being fired indiscriminately at civilians, after results of the country’s Presidential elections earlier this week were announced. 

A Department of Defense source in Africa told Fox News Digital “all U.S. personnel are accounted for” in the country, adding “I don’t think any of the violence is near where they are at.”

Most of the weapons appear to have been fired in celebration, but leading local media source Chad One reported that five people had been killed, reportedly by the local army, in the capital, N’Djamena. In the election, the incumbent interim President Mahamat Deby is claimed to have won 61% of the votes polled.

Up until last month, the U.S. had approximately 100 military personnel operating in Chad. Most, Fox News Digital understands, were Special Forces troops, fighting the threat of Islamist terror in the Sahel region.

CHAD’S MILITARY LEADER WINS DISPUTED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Chad election

An armored vehicle of Chad’s army forces is deployed in N’Djamena on May 10, 2024, a day after the announcement of the results of Chad’s presidential election. Chad’s junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno won this week’s presidential election in the first round, according to provisional official results released on May 9, 2024.  (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

But last month, Chad’s military junta, leaning toward Russia, told the troops to pack up and go, causing something of a stand-off. After high-level negotiations between Washington and N’Djamena, some – but not all – U.S. troops were pulled out ‘temporarily’ for the country’s elections, but hope to come back.

“We still have U.S. forces on the ground in Chad. Only one group was told by the Chadian government to leave and in their own words, “temporary,” and once the election is over, they will be invited back,” the DOD source told Fox News Digital.

There’s a bigger standoff in nearby Niger. This country’s military junta, again favoring Russia, effectively told 1,000 US military personnel and contractors to leave town in March – but so far they are staying put. 

The U.S. has been operating manned and unmanned flight operations against Jihadist forces in the region from two bases in the country. 

Publicly at least, the U.S. forces are leaving, the DOD source told Fox News Digital this week: “The U.S. troop status in Niger is a full pull out of all U.S. forces. Our negotiations right now are centered on the how and when.” 

Protesters gather as a man holds up a sign demanding that soldiers from the United States Army leave Niger without negotiation during a demonstration in Niamey, on April 13, 2024. Thousands of people demonstrated on April 13, 2024, in Niger’s capital, Niamey, to demand the immediate departure of American soldiers based in northern Niger, after the military regime said it was withdrawing from a 2012 cooperation deal with Washington.  (AFP via Getty Images)

“The United States has initiated discussions on an orderly and responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Niger,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, adding. “The Deputy Secretary, along with senior leaders at the Department of State, Department of Defense, U.S. Africa Command, the U.S. Embassy in Niger, and others, are engaged in ongoing frank discussions with the authorities in Niger.  We do not want to speculate and get ahead of the discussions.”

To accusations circulating that U.S. personnel in Niger are not being resupplied or getting transport help when needed, the Department of Defense official stated that U.S. troops in Niger are getting assistance, but not so much through official military channels. “Flights have been limited, but personnel have been able to transfer via commercial airlines. To my knowledge, very few if any military flights have come in and out in the last few months,” the source told Fox News Digital.

Then there’s the Russians. Reportedly, Wagner mercenaries, the Kremlin’s private army, have been allowed by Niger to take over a hangar and conduct operations on the same Airbase 101, in the capital, Niamey, which houses U.S. forces. 

US TO PULL TROOPS FROM CHAD AND NIGER AS THE AFRICAN NATIONS QUESTION ITS COUNTERTERRORISM ROLE

Niger-US-Presence

A U.S. and Niger flag are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, April 16, 2018. The United States is attempting to create a new military agreement with Niger that would allow it to remain in the country, weeks after the junta said its presence was no longer justified, two Western officials told the Associated Press on Friday, April 19, 2024.  (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin downplayed the importance of, perhaps uniquely, having Russia and the U.S. share the same airbase. “Right now, I don’t see a significant issue here in terms of our force protection,” Austin told reporters in Hawaii last week.

The DOD source told Fox News Digital Thursday, “Russian forces are at a completely different section of the airport compound and do not have access, or are in close proximity, to the U.S. side. We can’t go into details about where each force is on the base, from a force protection point of view.”

RUSSIA AND US JOCKEY FOR SUPPORT ACROSS AFRICA

Russian Flag demonstration

Supporters of Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) demonstrate in Niamey on August 6, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

“Russian military personnel and U.S. forces are in close proximity in Niger, as close as two miles or as far as 500 miles, depending on the specific area,” Strategic Military Intelligence Analyst and Foreign Affairs Consultant for Fox News Digital Rebekah Koffler said, adding, “It is unlikely that Russian forces present a physical threat to U.S. forces. There are deconfliction procedures between the Pentagon and Russia’s General Staff. This process is intended to avoid direct confrontation and escalation. But dust-ups can occur unintentionally, especially now that there’s tremendous hostility between Moscow and Washington.”

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But Koffler warned, “There’s a big counter-intelligence risk. The Russians are always collecting intelligence on the U.S. military, whether it’s weapons, tactics, command and control, procedures, training manuals, etc.”

The Pentagon’s main man for Africa, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley, has said that it is vital to have U.S. troops on the ground in Africa, telling the House Armed Services Committee in March, “Terrorism, poverty, food insecurity, climate change and mass migration shatter African lives.” Gen. Langley, U.S. Africa Command commander, continued, “These factors sow the seeds of violent extremism and Russian exploitation across entire regions of the continent.”

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