The ambush of a patrol in Niger this month that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. Army soldiers is believed to have been a "set up" in which their location was exposed by villagers who tipped off ISIS-affiliated militants, a U.S. official tells NPR.

NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman reports that the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says when the patrol of U.S. and Niger troops stopped in a village near the border with Mali to get water, locals there gave them "the cold stare."

The soldiers felt uncomfortable by the scrutiny and the patrol left shortly afterwards to spend the night in a different location.

The official says the attack that followed is believed to have been a "set-up" by the villagers.

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