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.
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 non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009
  • Has killed 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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Comments page of 3
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by: Anonymous
May 09, 2014 5:02 PM
The must important thing to bring back our schoolgirls

by: Anonymous from: Akwa Ibom
May 09, 2014 4:38 PM
Is Nigeria military too weak to handle this incidence?
In Response

by: tope from: pretoria
May 13, 2014 8:01 AM
Don't blame our military guys.i trust our army.if they want to work they would work.but they are working under the power of some northern stupid leaders that are more powerful than the so called Mr president. OK take for example,why didn't bokoharam come out during the regime of the ex president olusegun obasanjo? The northerners don't want Jonathan there and also even himself is so weak to rule the nation!

by: bob from: nc
May 09, 2014 9:31 AM
what is wrong with finding the homesless in this country, vetrans on the street with missing arms and legs, and giving them some help instead of taking care of other countries problems. this is a terrible thing to do to these poor poeple. wake up america.

by: John Poole from: Ardmore, PA
May 09, 2014 8:55 AM
Find the girls? Then what? I doubt Boko Haram has all the girls under one big tent. If one were able to find one grouping and attempt a rescue that would probably mean death to the others in similar small groups. A little too late to the rescue I believe. Solution: Offer to buy the girls for $20 each if that is what Boko is asking. I'll kick in enough to have five or six girls returned to their families.
In Response

by: tricia from: texas
May 09, 2014 11:18 AM
I totally agree! Btw packman jones we give terrorist billions of dollars every year. What do you call that? Stupid is what I call it. This is a time we actually need to do something and we do nothing. Pay them get the girls back then go after them. And there is plenty of help that veterans and homeless have available here. There are endless shelters, pantries, charities. I know since I have been homeless! For anyone to say we should ignore this shows how selfish and screwed up you are! These are innocent girls! Orr country is always going to war for things that don't concern us. Yet now that it's the right thing we and over a handful of men to 'search'
In Response

by: Pacman Jones
May 09, 2014 9:34 AM
Negotiate with terrorists? Not how we get down brother. Just chill in PA where its safe n leave the decision making to the big boys. ;)

by: Anthony from: US
May 09, 2014 8:47 AM
If 276 young ladies were on a plane that had gone missing, there were be search operations from a dozen countries mobilized, as we've seen with MH370. These young ladies went missing through a heinous act and we saw little response. Hopefully the disgusting claims by Boko Haram on what they will do next, which they fully intend to carry out, have "woken a sleeping giant" and shamed the entire world into action. I pray for the girls and for speedy and decisive action to save them and bring Boko Haram, not to justice, but to dissolution.

by: Anonymous
May 09, 2014 8:40 AM
God will expose the sponsors of this useless boko haram

by: Jeff from: US
May 09, 2014 7:38 AM
Keep US forces the hell out of Africa.

by: Jessica from: Texas
May 09, 2014 6:43 AM
Even Father of all Terrorism condemned the Kidnapping of those innocent little girls by the Local Champions the so called Boko Haram. Sex perverts that is what you animals are. Our Great Spiritual Leader will torment you all one by one. This is Africa and the war will be by all means. You guys never see Zombie Soldiers and Ghost Warriors.

by: umar ukpo from: usa
May 09, 2014 1:48 AM
I am pessimistic that nothing will change even after these little girls are found. They even have electricity to power the equipment that the west may leave behind, the governor in Borno may sell it to Cameron . Hundreds of billions of oil money, where did it go?

by: Shamrao Vinekar from: Mumbai India
May 09, 2014 1:42 AM
U.S. Spy Agency CIA should deploy unmanned drones to destroy Boko Haram in Nigeria. The Nigerian Government does not have the necessary resources to tackle an extremist organisation like Boko Haram.The leaders of Boko Haram should be destroyed without mercy.
In Response

by: Luis Duarte from: Portugal
May 09, 2014 9:47 AM
Yes ...destroyed without mercy . The problem of western countries is that we deal with these animals calling them humans.....They are not ! They belong to one kind of diRrty specimen without brains that are polluted our planet !Thanks USA...always in the fist line to defend the civilization !!We deserve what USA do for us ,Europeans? Sometimes don t , and I always are listen the the stupid EDs speaking against the police of the world forgetting that they are giving their life also for us!! Thanks again Americans !
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