Nigerian State Confirms Military Offensive to Locate and Free Girls Abducted by Boko Haram
Breaking news details confirmations by the Nigerian state that a military offensive has been launched to locate and release more than 270 girls kidnapped and bing held by Boko Haram militants, reportedly somewhere deep in the Sambisa forest. Taken the night of April 14 from Chibok and May 5 from Warabe, the girls have faced sale into domestic and sexual servitudes and forced marriages as well as forced conversion. In a video released Monday, Boko Haram leader and spokesman, Abubakar Shekau, spoke to images of the girls dressed in Islamic hijabs and reciting Quran’ic passages.
05/14/2014 Nigeria (the guardian) – The Nigerian government has confirmed that a military operation has been launched with international backing to locate and rescue more than 200 girls, who have been held captive for a month.
The government has also signalled it is ready to negotiate with the Islamist militants who snatched the girls from a school in Chibok, in the north-east of the country.
“International operations have commenced in collaboration with the Nigerian military … The operations are being carried out in conjunction with Nigerian troops,” Mike Omeri, coordinator of the national information centre, told a press conference in Abuja.
“Surveillance? Yes. Intelligence? Yes. And knowledge and experience sharing will be applied,” he added. He declined to give further details.
As international assistance to the search and rescue efforts intensified, Canada has become the latest country to disclose that it has sent special forces to Nigeria, joining teams from the US, UK, France and Israel.
The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, said his country’s forces would not engage in combat but were “to provide liaison and to assist Nigerian authorities in their search”.
David Cameron told parliament on Wednesday that Britain had offered to step up its assistance by sending surveillance aircraft and a military team. A UK team of military advisers and family liaison officers, led by brigadier Ivan Jones, has been in Nigeria since Friday.
The prime minister told MPs: “I can announce we have offered Nigeria further assistance in terms of surveillance aircraft, a military team to embed with the Nigerian army in their HQ, and a team to work with US experts to analyse information on the girls’ location.”
The abduction of the girls was, Cameron said, “an act of pure evil”, adding: “The world is coming together not just to condemn it but to do everything we can to help the Nigerians find these young girls.”
In Abuja, the special duties minister, Taminu Turaki, said the government was open to talks with Boko Haram, the Islamist group that abducted the girls.”Nigeria has always been willing to dialogue with the insurgents,” he told AFP. “We are willing to carry that dialogue on any issue, including girls kidnapped in Chibok.” British Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds met officials in Abuja on Wednesday to discuss further assistance.
A group of about 130 of the kidnapped girls appeared on a video released this week by Boko Haram. After a special viewing for parents, all the girls were confirmed as students of the Government Girls secondary school in Chibok. Although most of the abducted girls are Christian, all were wearing Muslim dress and two were singled out to say they had converted to Islam.