U.S. experts arrive in Nigeria to find girls taken by Boko Haram

U.S. experts arrive in Nigeria to find girls taken by Boko Haram

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A policeman stand beside children holding as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as "slaves". "I abducted your girls," the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI


by NBC News


Posted on May 9, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Updated Friday, May 9 at 7:17 AM

American experts have arrived in Nigeria to help track down the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.

“Our inter-agency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria,” Secretary of State John Kery said late Thursday. They are going to be working with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to return the girls to their families and their communities, he added.

“We are also going to do everything possible to counter the menace of Boko Haram,” Kerry said, referring to the extremist Islamist group which has claimed responsibility for kidnapping the girls from their school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14.

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The kidnappings and a video featuring the terror organization's leader threatening to sell the girls "in the market" have sparked protests worldwide over the Nigerian government's perceived inaction and failure to find the girls.

“The entire world should not only be condemning this outrage but should be doing everything possible to help Nigeria in the days ahead,” Kerry said.

In an interview with TODAY’s Al Roker earlier this week, President Barack Obama said military and law enforcement officials would go to Nigeria to help with the search.

Reuters reported Thursday that the U.S. was considering a request by Nigeria to provide surveillance aircraft and intelligence.

"We are considering it," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. assistant-secretary of State for African Affairs, said in an interview.

A British team has also arrived in Nigeria and they will be, "working closely with their US counterparts and others to coordinate efforts,” a spokesperson said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum being hosted in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to find the girls and thanked foreign nations for their support.

"By God's grace we will conquer the terrorists," he told the audience. “I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria.”

Boko Haram - whose name, roughly translated, means “Western education is sinful” - has been waging a bloody campaign in northeast Nigeria for years, destroying churches, kidnapping scores of people and burning down schools, sometimes with the students locked inside.