JOHANNESBURG, December 1- The government of Niger has approved the use of armed American drones to increase Washington’s ability, in conjunction with the Nigerien military, to target militants in the region, Reuters reports.
Niger had previously sought to arm the American surveillance drones operating in its skies but had to wait until an agreement was reached with the Americans.
Following the death of four American soldiers in Niger in October, attention has focused on US counter-terrorism operations in the West African country.
An anonymous US official confirmed that permission to operate the armed drones had been granted but they are yet to be deployed.
The US force on the ground in Niger has expanded to 800 people who accompany the Nigeriens on intelligence gathering and other missions.
The force is bolstered by a $100 million drone base in the central Nigerien city of Agadez which at present only deploys surveillance drones.
The Nigerien military is also supported by the Americans with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as they target violent Islamist organisations.
– African News Agency (ANA)