NEW: Melgar's cause of death was asphyxiation, defense official says
The report comes as the US military's role in Africa undergoes heightened scrutiny
The Navy is investigating whether two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six killed an Army Green Beret in Mali in June, a US official told CNN Sunday.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Ed Buice confirmed to CNN the NCIS investigation into the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar.
Melgar was a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant, according to a statement from the US Army Special Command.
Military officials told CNN that a military examiner ruled Melgar’s death while on assignment in the African nation of Mali as a homicide.
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.
The New York Times was the first to report that two members of SEAL Team Six were under investigation for Melgar’s death at a US government compound near the American embassy in Bamako, the capital.
Melgar’s cause of death was asphyxiation, according to a defense official familiar with the findings of the medical examiner’s report.
Michelle Melgar, the victim’s wife, has been notified her husband’s manner of death was a homicide, the US official said.
She told CNN: “I ask for privacy during this time – I hope that you will allow me to tell my story when I’m ready. I knew him best – he was my best friend. It’s all so new – I’m sorry.”
Melgar, a native of Lubbock, Texas, enlisted in the US Army in 2012 and began Special Forces training in 2013, according to the US Army Special Command statement. He served two deployments to Afghanistan.
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.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated with CNN reporting on Logan Melgar’s cause of death.
CNN’s Konstantin Toropin contributed to this report.