Obama pledges to help Nigeria find kidnapped schoolgirls

Washington, May 7: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said his administration will do its best to help Nigeria find more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by an extremist group in mid-April this year.

"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," said the president in an interview with NBC's "Today" programme Tuesday, Xinhua reported citing the interview.

He said: "The long-term goal is to deal with groups like Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility Monday for the abduction of 234 teenaged schoolgirls in Nigeria's north-eastern state of Borno and threatened to sell them as brides."

At least eight more girls were kidnapped in the region.

At least eight more girls were kidnapped in the region.

"Boko Haram, this terrorist organisation that's been operating in Nigeria, has been killing people and innocent civilians for a very long time," Obama said.

The US put sanctions on the group in November last year, including denial of access to US financial institutions and a freeze on its assets under US jurisdiction.

"We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them," Obama said, adding the Nigerian government had accepted an American offer of assistance from a team of US military and law enforcement officials.

US Secretary of State John Kerry made the offer in his phone talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan earlier in the day, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"The proposed team would include US military personnel, law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations, as well as officials with expertise in other areas that may be helpful to the Nigerian government in its response," Carney noted.

Jonathan had said his government had no knowledge of where the girls were being held.

But Carney ruled out using American forces in Africa in the search and rescue effort, saying "we're not considering at this point military resources".


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