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US, Britain Pledge To Support Nigeria To Bring Back Abducted School Girls

Mona Ogbeidi

The United States intelligence official has resolved to help Nigeria with the search for the 276 schoolgirls abducted last month in Chibok, Borno state, northeast Nigeria.

Women Group Demands Release Of Abducted School Girls

Women Group Demands Release Of Abducted School Girls

US Secretary of State John Kerry who announced this development on Tuesday while discussing the coordinated approach with President Goodluck Jonathan through a telephone conversation, said that the two countries would move to establish a task force at the US embassy in Abuja to enable some more expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations, as well as information sharing, as well as victim assistance.

“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of these young girls and we want to provide whatever assistance is possible in order to help for their safe return to their families,” Kerry said at a news conference at the State Department in Washington.

Kerry was joined by the European Union foreign policy Chief Cathy Ashton, who stated that, the young women represent Nigeria.

“The young women represent Nigeria’s future, Ashton said. They are teachers, dancers, politicians. They are scientists. They are mothers. They are women in the making who have a right to play their full part in their society. And what has happened to them is devastating for all of us. And we must do, like you, everything possible to try and reunite them with their families and to prevent this ever, ever happening again.”

The US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, however said that the team heading to the U.S. embassy in Abuja would include U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials trained in investigations and hostage negotiations.

Kerry also said that the United State had been engaged in the happenings in Nigeria, but he implied that it met some initial resistance from the Nigerian government.

“You can offer and talk, but you can’t ‘do’ if a government has its own sense of how it’s proceeding,” Kerry said. “I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort. And it will begin immediately.”

So far, suspected Boko Haram gunmen has reportedly kidnapped eight more girls between the ages of 12 and 15 from a village near one of their strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight, police and residents said earlier Tuesday.

An eyewitness disclosed that, there were armed men, who came in two vehicles painted in army color, shooting in the air all the time.

However, the Nigerian officials have stated that the economic forum would still take place as planned, despite growing public outrage over the abduction and government response.

The international conference is expected to draw more than 1,000 delegates and many heads of state.

President Jonathan has therefore pledged that Boko Haram activities would not disrupt the forum.

“Terror will not stop us from work,” the Nigerian president said. “The act of terror in Africa is diversionary … organized by a group of people that don’t want the continent to move forward. Whenever any country is seeing any sign of progress, you see these criminal elements that will come up to retard the country.”

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

During a Tuesday briefing, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay, said that under international law, it would be considered as “one of the most serious crimes” that exists.

Colville noted that those responsible for such a crime could be arrested, prosecuted and “jailed at any time in the future.”

Britain also 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.

Boko Haram’s actions “in using girls as the spoils of war, the spoils of terrorism, is disgusting, it is immoral,” Hague said. “It should show everybody across the world that they should not give any support to such a vile organization” he said.


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