News / Africa

    US Team in Nigeria to Aid Search for Kidnapped Girls

    South Africans, protesting the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls and what protesters said was the failure of government to rescue them, march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2014.
    South Africans, protesting the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls and what protesters said was the failure of government to rescue them, march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2014.
    VOA News
    The U.S. military said almost a dozen staff officers were in Nigeria and would form the core part of the U.S. team to aid in finding nearly 300 schoolgirls who were abducted last month in northern Nigeria.

    Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the team is “sharply focused” on crisis and “moving as quickly as possible.” About 10 more members from AFRICOM will join the team within days.

    The team will be based at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, and will help with communications, logistics and intelligence. Discussions about how to share information with the Nigerian government is ongoing.

    Parents of the kidnapped girls said troops had arrived on Thursday in Chibok on a mission to find the girls.

    "There are about three military helicopters hovering around our town and many soldiers have just arrived," said Maina Chibok, whose 16-year-old daughter is among the missing. "They are moving and advancing toward the bush. We hope they succeed in rescuing our daughters."

    First ladies show support

    U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama showed her support for the kidnapped girls on social media, posting a picture of herself on Facebook and Twitter, along with a message saying her thoughts and prayers were with the girls and their families.
     

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also lent her voice to the international outcry on Wednesday, expressing her outrage and calling for action.

    "It's criminal. It's an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible. First and foremost from the government of Nigeria,” Clinton said.

    Earlier Thursday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to find more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebels, as the hostage crisis overshadowed his opening address to a major conference designed to showcase investment opportunities in Africa's biggest economy.

    Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Africa (WEFA) being hosted in the capital Abuja, Jonathan thanked foreign nations including the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and China for their support in trying to rescue the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school on April 14 by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

    WEFA summit

    In remarks during the WEFA summit, Jonathan thanked delegates for coming despite the danger posed by the militants, then quickly moved on to a speech about creating jobs in African economies.
     
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks at the opening session at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, May 8, 2014.Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks at the opening session at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, May 8, 2014.
    x
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks at the opening session at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, May 8, 2014.
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks at the opening session at the World Economic Forum in Abuja, May 8, 2014.
    “As a nation we are facing attack from terrorism,'' Jonathan told delegates. "I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria.”

    Despite such pledges, Jonathan admitted on national television this week that he had no idea where the girls were.

    The recent kidnappings and numerous other attacks by Boko Haram have overshadowed Nigeria's hosting of the forum, an annual gathering of the rich and powerful that replicates the one in Davos, Switzerland.

    Foreign aid

    In addition to the U.S., Britain has promised to provide satellite imagery, France said it will send security agents and Canada offered surveillance equipment and personnel to run it. China became the latest nation to offer help on Thursday.

    In the latest big Islamist attack in Nigeria, 125 people were killed on Monday when gunmen rampaged through a town in the northeast near the Cameroon border.

    A senator from Borno state, Ahmed Zannah, put the number killed at 300, although local politicians have sometimes been accused of exaggerating casualty figures for political reasons.

    Either way, the scale and ferocity of the massacre in Gamburu again underscored how far Nigerian security forces are from protecting civilians in an increasingly violent region.

    On Tuesday, residents of another village in the remote northeastern area where the schoolgirls were kidnapped said another eight girls were seized by suspected members of Boko Haram.

    Nigerian Women March for Rescue of Chibok Girls
     
    • Former French first ladies Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (left) and Valerie Trierweiler (right) stand with politicians and entertainment artists holding a banner that reads "Leaders, bring back our girls" during a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, May 13, 2014.
    • Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler stands near a placard that reads "Bring back our girls" during a demonstration to pressure government leaders to help search for the Nigerian schoolgirls, near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, May 13, 2014. 
    • Nigerians take part in a protest, called by Malaga's Nigerian women Association, for the release of the abducted schoolgirls, at La Merced square in Malaga, southern Spain May 13, 2014. 
    • Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman (left), Director General, National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri (center) Frank Mba National police spokesman attend a press conference on the abducted school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
    • Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, speaks to the camera in a video released by the extremist militant group, May 12, 2014.
    • This video released by the extremist militant group, Boko Haram, shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok, May 12, 2014.
    • Demonstrators carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau as they demand the release of the abducted schoolgirls, Lagos, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
    • Protesters demonstrate against the kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, London May 9, 2014.
    • A sign is pinned to a tree during a demonstration against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, in London, May 9, 2014. 
    • People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of the schoolgirls who were abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 9, 2014.


    Muslim scholars speak out

    Top religious scholars working under the world's largest bloc of Islamic countries also said Thursday they strongly condemn the kidnappings and called for the girls' immediate release.

    Boko Haram
     

    • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
    • Self-proclaimed leader is Abubakar Shekau
    • Began in 2002 as a nonviolent Islamist splinter group
    • Launched uprising in 2009
    • Has killed tens of thousands since 2010
    • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
    • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
    Boko Haram's leader has used Islamic teachings as justification for threatening to sell the girls into slavery.

    The Islamic Fiqh Academy, which is based in Saudi Arabia and dedicated to the advanced study of Islam, said that this "crime and other crimes committed by the likes of these extremist organizations contradicts all humanitarian principles and moral values and violates the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah," or teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

    The academy is part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is comprised of some 57 Muslim majority member-nations.

    Also on Thursday, the OIC's Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission said Boko Haram is misguided to claim that the abduction of the girls and the threat to sell them off as slaves is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. The rights body described the abduction of the schoolgirls as a "barbaric act."

    Nigerian police on Wednesday offered a $300,000 reward for “credible” information leading to the location and rescue of the students.

    Some information for this report provided by Reuters. AP.
     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: martin
    May 23, 2014 10:48 AM
    what the kidnappers did IS in conformity with islamist law. Look at the executions, beheadings, in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries of women who walk out in public without their birka on their own, can't drive, get shot for getting educated, C'MON! The Saudi government, when they behead a woman, have people shouting "God is great" when the head comes off, eerily the same shout as the Boko Haram kidnappers shouted when they kill people in Nigeria.

    by: bunmi bankole elegbede. from: ibadan
    May 18, 2014 11:51 AM
    I pray dat God wil deliver dis girls 4rm d den of boko haram

    by: Daniel Chuks from: Abia
    May 14, 2014 5:09 PM
    I pray that with all these offered to us by some of these international nations, our girls who went to schools of no return will DEFINITELY come back to their different parents...our government you shouldn't give up for the release of the abducted citizens. Just keep on keeping on is just a matter of time all these their threat (boko haram) will be over...GOD DELIVER US AND OUR COUNTRY, NIGERIA FROM THE HANDS OF ALL evil men trying to pull down our nation

    by: barrister olusola omoniyi from: oyo state
    May 14, 2014 11:14 AM
    I know that nigeria will sure become peacefully if only we can get rid of some 44 strong stupid leaders that I guess are behind all this boko haram....

    by: Anonymous
    May 11, 2014 3:16 PM
    they are sponsored by northern leaders, they have to be investigated.

    by: totoo from: enugu
    May 11, 2014 3:13 PM
    who are sponsoring boko haram, civilians or politicians?

    by: Jones from: Nigeria
    May 10, 2014 10:39 PM
    Y shuld he resign. I pray they find the girls

    by: angel from: gauteng
    May 10, 2014 3:18 PM
    let's pray 4 our sisters

    by: impal from: lag
    May 10, 2014 2:34 PM
    Mr president Jonathan pls resign!
    In Response

    by: tunelace555 from: pretoria
    May 13, 2014 7:52 AM
    CHIPENS, you are stupid for what you said.is it only terrorism Jonathan has failed to tackle?what of the embezzlement of public funds by his chosen cabinet.e.g the 20 billion dollar that disappeared. Before the gunmen came to kidnap the girls,the army had been informed 4 hours to the strike of the gun men,the army vacated the area due to the order given from above to vacate the place. Don't you know not Jonathan is ruling again? look at ordinary ferry that capsized and hundreds of kids died,the prime minister of Korea resigned just because of that. i guess you are part of bokoharam members.u no get sense
    In Response

    by: CHIPINES
    May 10, 2014 10:49 PM
    IMPAL U ARE VERY STUPID FOR DAT COMMENT.WHY WOULD MR PRESIDENT RESIGN.WAT CONSINE RESIGNATION WIT DIS ISSUE.PLS IF U DONT KNW WAT TO SAY PLS SHUT UP.DO U THINK IT IS EASY TO TACKLE TERRORISM,ESPECIALLY THIS ONE DAT IS BEIN BACKED UP BY SOME TOP POLITICIAN IN DE COUNTRY

    by: Usman Mambilla from: Taraba(Jalingo)
    May 10, 2014 2:24 PM
    Absolutely Nigerian Military are weak.Aren't they?
    We boost to be the GIANT of Africa but we can't control our Country from terrorisms.
    Welcome to the U.S military forces!
    In Response

    by: tope from: pretoria
    May 13, 2014 7:55 AM
    my brother they are been influenced by our leaders.this thing is political.where are the gunmen getting money to finance themselves or the sophisticated weapons they are using? we are not fools.some northern leaders are behind this !
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