Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Ed Buice confirmed to CNN the NCIS investigation into the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar.
The Times, citing military officials, said a military examiner ruled Melgar’s death while on assignment was homicide by strangulation and that two SEALs were flown out of Mali after the death and placed on administrative leave.
A US official told CNN jurisdiction for the investigation shifted from the Army investigation service to the Navy in September. The official said the transfer of jurisdiction indicates that Navy personnel are subjects of the investigation.
Homicide is listed in the military coroner’s report, a military official told CNN. Melgar’s wife has been notified her husband’s manner of death was a homicide, the official said.
The report of the mysterious death and resulting homicide investigation comes as the US undergoes heightened scrutiny about its military role Africa following the death of four US service members in Niger earlier this month.
Melgar was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group, which is the primary unit responsible for Army special operations in northwest Africa, including Mali and Niger. The four American soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month were part of the same group.
Some Senate leaders expressed surprise about the extent of US military operations, renewing the debate over the authority for the United States’ sprawling war on terror.
Amid growing questions about what went wrong during the deadly mission, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said the US forces are in “about 53 different countries” in Africa.
Like neighboring Niger, Mali has faced significant, deadly extremism. Gunmen attacked a luxury resort in Mali the same month Melgar died, and in August there were two separate attacks on United Nations missions there.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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