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US to Aid Nigeria in Search for Missing Girls

The United States is sending a team of experts to Nigeria to help in the search for more than 275 school girls abducted by Boko Haram.

During a Tuesday appearance, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan accepted the U.S. offer when they spoke by phone earlier in the day.



"Our embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell that could provide expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations and to help facilitate information-sharing and victim assistance."



State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said the assistance would include U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials.

A special adviser to Mr. Jonathan says the president told Kerry that Nigerian security agencies were already working "at full capacity" to find and rescue the girls, who were kidnapped in mid-April from their secondary school in Chibok, a town in the northern Borno state region.

In a Tuesday statement, special adviser Reuben Abati also said President Jonathan met with his defense and national security chiefs after speaking to Kerry.

More than 300 girls were kidnapped from the school last month. Some managed to escape but 276 remain missing.

Earlier Tuesday, residents in another northern Nigeria village said suspected Boko Haram militants had kidnapped eight more girls in the region.

The residents of Warabe said Tuesday that gunmen stormed their village Sunday and kidnapped the girls. They say the kidnappers, who were in several vehicles, also took food and livestock during the raid.

In the video released Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shekau said, "I abducted your girls," and vowed to, in his words, sell them in the market.



The United Nations human rights office has warned Islamist militants they could face charges of crimes against humanity if they carried out the threat to sell the kidnapped girls.

In a Tuesday briefing, a spokesman for U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay said under international law, it would be "one of the most serious crimes" that exists. The spokesman also said those responsible for such a crime could be arrested, prosecuted and "jailed at any time in the future."

Also Tuesday, Britain said it was supporting the Nigerian government's efforts to find the girls.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his government is offering "practical help" to Nigeria.



"What has happened here with the actions of Boko Haram in using girls as the spoils of war, the spoils of terrorism is disgusting, it is immoral; it should show everybody across the world that they should not give any support to such a vile organization."



Some Nigerians have been critical of the government, saying President Jonathan's administration has not done enough to secure the girls' release. In a VOA interview , ruling People's Democratic Party spokesman Abdullahi Jalo said Mr. Jonathan is doing everything possible.



"He reaffirmed to people that no matter what, the government will spend its last blood, its last effort to see that these people, these girls, are returned to their loved ones."



Unconfirmed reports say some of the girls have been "married" to their captors, while others allegedly have been moved across the border into Cameroon and Chad.

In another development Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Nigeria. It cautions U.S. citizens against any travel to the Borno, Yobe and Adamawa state regions where militant groups have been active.

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