President Barack Obama announced yesterday that the US will assist Nigeria in finding the over 200 teenage girls who were abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram three weeks ago.
“We’ve already sent in a team to Nigeria – they’ve accepted our help through a combination of military, law enforcement, and other agencies who are going in, trying to identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help,” Obama said Tuesday. The support will include technical assistance from US military and law enforcement officials skilled in intelligence, investigations, victim assistance, hostage negotiating, and other areas. Armed forces will not be involved.
“In the short term our goal is obviously to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies,” Obama told NBC. “But we’re also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this that . . . can cause such havoc in people’s day-to-day lives.”
The kidnapped girls, 53 of whom have escaped, were at their school when Boko Haram abducted them. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced his intention to sell the girls “in the market” in a video. Many fear that some of the girls may have already been forced into sex slavery or trafficked across the border, and protests have grown around the world and on twitter where people have called on Nigeria to #BringBackOurGirls.
President Obama called the kidnapping “heartbreaking,” and called on the international community to take action against Boko Haram. “You’ve got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they’ve been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we’ve already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians – this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime.”
Boko Haram kidnapped 8 more girls from Warabe on Sunday night, and killed as many as 300 people in an attack on Gamboru Ngala. Both towns are in the northeastern region of Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon, not far from Chibok were the schoolgirls were abducted. A government official told a local newspaper that the attack on Gamboru Ngala lasted about 12 hours. Members of Boko Haram were reported to have sprayed gunfire into crowds and set shops and resident homes on fire.