- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2017

The body of slain U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldiers killed in Niger last month, was discovered in a state suggesting he had been captured and then executed, according to eyewitness accounts.

Two residents of the Niger village where Johnson and three other soldiers died following an October 4 ambush said that he was found with his arms tied and had a gaping wound at the back of his head, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Children tending cattle near the remote Niger village of Tongo Tongo found Johnson’s remains on Oct. 6 in a bushy area located about a mile away from the ambush site, according to Adamou Boubacar, a 23-year-old farmer and trader who saw the soldier’s body after the children alerted him, The Post reported.

Mr. Boubacar said he found Johnson’s body face down with a large wound at the back of his head that could have been caused by a bullet, the report said.

“His two arms were tied behind his back,” said Mr. Boubacar, suggesting the possibility the soldier was held captive and then executed, according to The Post.

Mr. Boubacar said he subsequently notified the village’s chief, Mounkaila Alassane, who confirmed his findings in a separate interview.

“The back of his head was a mess, as if they had hit him with something hard, like a hammer,” the chief told the Post. “They took his shoes. He was wearing only socks.”

Nigerian military forces retrieved the body after being alerted by the village chief, he told The Post.

“When the Americans received Johnson, his hands were not tied,” an unnamed U.S. official told The Post.

The Department of Defense acknowledged the ambush on Oct. 5. Military officials announced later in the week that Johnson was discovered missing in the wake of the attack and that his body had been found nearly 48 hours later. He was 25.

U.S. Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Dustin Wright were killed in the same attack, according to the Pentagon. They had been deployed near the Mali border “to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations in the region,” the DOD said previously. Their deaths are under investigation.

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