U.S. team to help Nigeria find nearly 300 abducted girls, White House announces

The White House announced Tuesday that it is going to send a team to Nigeria to help assist its government in finding nearly 300 girls who were abducted from their school by  Islamic extremists last month.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the United States will provide military personnel, intelligence and hostage negotiators to help the government. Carney said that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the U.S. offer. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with President Jonathan Tuesday morning, Carney said.

Carney said there is a "utility to having U.S. military personnel and experts on intelligence" on the ground in Nigeria, "and hostage negotiators to assist and advise the Nigerian government as they deal with this challenge."

Carney said the U.S. is not considering bringing "force to bear or troops to bear" in Nigeria at this point.

 

Nearly 300 girls were abducted from a rural school in the country's northeast by Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group that does not believe girls should be sent to school. Its name means "Western Education is Sinful." The group admitted responsibility this week and has threatened to sell the girls. According to reports, eight more girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were abducted this week.

Kerry, on a trip to Ethiopia, said the U.S. will do all it can to help find the girls.

“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime,” Kerry said. “We will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice.”

Carney said President Obama and Kerry will discuss the abductions at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. The 20 women in the U.S. Senate were on the verge Tuesday morning of asking Obama to further condemn the kidnappings.

When asked if the Nigerian government was standing in the way of finding the girls, Carney said it is that government's primary responsibility to find them.

"It is Nigeria’s responsibility, first and foremost, to ensure the safety of their citizens and these girls were abducted 22 days ago,” Carney said.

Carney on Monday called the April 15 mass abduction "an outrage and a tragedy" and said Boko Haram is a terrorist group with "heinous and malicious intent."

The abductions have sparked protests and outrage around the world. A group called Bring Back our Girls protested outside the Nigerian embassy in the District, where dozens  demanded that Nigerian authorities take action to find the girls.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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