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Nearly 300 Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Remain Missing, U.S. Sends Support

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International pressure for cooperation from Nigerian officials increases

By BVN Staff

Three weeks after the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Chibok, Nigeria, U.S. officials said they were deploying support comprised of military, law enforcement and other agencies to help with rescue efforts. The decision was announced Tuesday as international pressure mounted against Nigerian officials for not responding fast enough to the abduction of the girls.

Terrorist group Boko Haram, which was suspected of leading the mass kidnapping, confirmed responsibility last week for the abduction of 276 schoolgirls. This week, an additional 8 girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were abducted in another village. More than 300 girls were reported kidnapped, but 53 of the girls managed to escape. An official count of how many girls were originally abducted widely varied because of access to attendance records from the school and slow cooperation from Nigerian officials.

Parents of the victims were outraged by Nigerian officials’ delay in responding to the crisis, accusing top government officials of not caring enough about rescuing the girls. Nigeria’s first lady Patience Jonathan was criticized for allegedly saying protest leaders should be arrested. President Goodluck Jonathan, who had remained silent for weeks, vowed on Sunday to find the missing girls.

U.S. officials and news media were also criticized for distancing themselves from the kidnapping and coverage of the ordeal slowly disseminating to the public. Activists and celebrities have pushed a social media campaign as a show of support for the Nigerian girls and their families, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls trending at one point on Twitter.

Boko Haram has been reportedly linked to al Qaeda. The group’s leader Abubakar Shekau released a video Monday threatening to sell the kidnapped girls. Speculation has mounted that some of the girls may have already been sold, and the prospects of selling them increasingly likely since slave trade is common in the region. Chibok is a rural area north of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and nearly borders Cameroon.

During his visit to Ethiopia, Secretary of State John Kerry called the kidnapping “an unconscionable crime” and pledged that the U.S. “will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes.” President Barack Obama said the ordeal may mobilize the international community to finally intervene against Boko Haram.

When U.S. forces would arrive in Nigeria was unclear.

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