US to help Nigeria rescue abducted girls

•President Goodluck Jonathan discussing with US President Barack Obama during their bilateral meeting in New York…yesterday

The United States of America (USA) is prepared to help Nigeria in searching for the more than 200 girls abducted by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

“We have been engaged with the Nigerian government in discussions on what we might do to help support their efforts to find and free these young women,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Thursday.

“We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can.”

The terrorists stormed the school on April 14, packed the teenagers onto trucks and motorcycles before disappearing into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The kidnapping occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital, Abuja, and it marked the first attack on the capital in two years.

The brutality of the abduction has shocked Nigerians long accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old insurgency especially in the Northeast. Boko Haram is now seen as the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer.

Harf did not elaborate on the kind of assistance Washington is offering, but said: “We know Boko Haram is active in the area and we have worked very closely with the Nigerian government to build their capacity to fight this threat.”

Separately, a group of U.S. senators introduced a resolution condemning the abduction and urging U.S. government assistance in the rescue effort.

“The U.S. and the international community must work with the Nigerian government to ensure these girls are reunited with their families and deepen efforts to combat the growing threat posed by Boko Haram,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, the chairman of the Senate’s African Affairs subcommittee, and one of the resolution’s six sponsors.

In fiscal year 2012, the United States provided over $20 million in security assistance to Nigeria, part of that to build the country’s military, boost its capacity to investigate terrorist attacks and enhance the government’s forensic capabilities, she said.

The US Embassy yesterday condemned Thursday’s explosion in Nyanya near Abuja.

Death toll in the blasts rose to 19 yesterday, according to the Police.

Sixteen were injured.

The embassy, in a statement in Abuja, said the attack was “ not only on innocent people but on a democratic nation itself.”

Lawless violence and intimidation, it declared, have no place in a democracy.

It said its thoughts “are with the families and loved ones of those who were killed or injured in this heinous act.”

It pledged its continued support for the government and Nigerians “as they face the threat of violent extremism.”

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