P/sunny
87°
P/sunny
Hi 87° | Lo 62°

Nigeria

Britain, U.S. join search for girls

New report shows military weakness

  • Schoolchildren walk past a newspaper placard reporting the election victory of Jacob Zuma's African National Congress (ANC) party, based on preliminary results, as the children leave after making a visit to the former house of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, in the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, May 9, 2014. Vote-counting in elections in South Africa is almost complete, indicating a comfortable win for the ruling African National Congress but also a strengthening of key opposition rivals that promised change after 20 years of leadership by the party that led the fight against apartheid. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

    Schoolchildren walk past a newspaper placard reporting the election victory of Jacob Zuma's African National Congress (ANC) party, based on preliminary results, as the children leave after making a visit to the former house of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, in the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, May 9, 2014. Vote-counting in elections in South Africa is almost complete, indicating a comfortable win for the ruling African National Congress but also a strengthening of key opposition rivals that promised change after 20 years of leadership by the party that led the fight against apartheid. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan, speaks during the World economic forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan, speaks during the World economic forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

  • Demonstrators hold banners, Friday, May 9, 2014, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, as they protest the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Demonstrators hold banners, Friday, May 9, 2014, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, as they protest the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. British experts arrived in the Nigerian capital on Friday to help find at least 276 girls being held by Islamic militants in northeastern Nigeria as an international effort began taking hold. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. British experts arrived in the Nigerian capital on Friday to help find at least 276 girls being held by Islamic militants in northeastern Nigeria as an international effort began taking hold. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • A demonstrator holds a banner, during a protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    A demonstrator holds a banner, during a protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Karilyn Coates, 10, joins others in a candlelight vigil for the more than 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, May 8, 2014. More than 250 girls are still missing, and U.S. officials and agents are arriving in Nigeria to help the government rescue them. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis) MAGS OUT

    Karilyn Coates, 10, joins others in a candlelight vigil for the more than 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, May 8, 2014. More than 250 girls are still missing, and U.S. officials and agents are arriving in Nigeria to help the government rescue them. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis) MAGS OUT

  • In a Thursday, May 1, 2014 photo, volunteer Glenn Scadden throws more branches on a pile of brush being cleared at Cheyenne Mountain State Park near Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team of volunteers and firefighters were clearing the area to help with any fires that might occur this summer. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett)

    In a Thursday, May 1, 2014 photo, volunteer Glenn Scadden throws more branches on a pile of brush being cleared at Cheyenne Mountain State Park near Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team of volunteers and firefighters were clearing the area to help with any fires that might occur this summer. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett)

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly news briefing Friday, May 9, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Democrats stand deeply divided over whether to participate in a Republican-led investigation of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, with party leader Nancy Pelosi calling the newest probe a "political stunt." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly news briefing Friday, May 9, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Democrats stand deeply divided over whether to participate in a Republican-led investigation of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, with party leader Nancy Pelosi calling the newest probe a "political stunt." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

  • South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, May 8, 2014. The kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko Haram's campaign of violence, and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

    South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, May 8, 2014. The kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko Haram's campaign of violence, and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • Schoolchildren walk past a newspaper placard reporting the election victory of Jacob Zuma's African National Congress (ANC) party, based on preliminary results, as the children leave after making a visit to the former house of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, in the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, May 9, 2014. Vote-counting in elections in South Africa is almost complete, indicating a comfortable win for the ruling African National Congress but also a strengthening of key opposition rivals that promised change after 20 years of leadership by the party that led the fight against apartheid. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
  • Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan, speaks during the World economic forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
  • Demonstrators hold banners, Friday, May 9, 2014, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, as they protest the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. British experts arrived in the Nigerian capital on Friday to help find at least 276 girls being held by Islamic militants in northeastern Nigeria as an international effort began taking hold. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • A demonstrator holds a banner, during a protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Demonstrators hold banners as they protest about the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, near the Nigerian High Commission in London, Friday, May 9, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram heated up Thursday, as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Karilyn Coates, 10, joins others in a candlelight vigil for the more than 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, May 8, 2014. More than 250 girls are still missing, and U.S. officials and agents are arriving in Nigeria to help the government rescue them. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis) MAGS OUT
  • In a Thursday, May 1, 2014 photo, volunteer Glenn Scadden throws more branches on a pile of brush being cleared at Cheyenne Mountain State Park near Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team of volunteers and firefighters were clearing the area to help with any fires that might occur this summer. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly news briefing Friday, May 9, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Democrats stand deeply divided over whether to participate in a Republican-led investigation of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, with party leader Nancy Pelosi calling the newest probe a "political stunt." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, May 8, 2014. The kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko Haram's campaign of violence, and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The international effort to rescue the 276 schoolgirls being held captive by Islamic extremists in northeastern Nigeria was boosted yesterday when British security experts joined the Nigerian and American forces trying to rescue the missing students.

As the worldwide effort got under way, the weakness of the Nigerian military was exposed in a report issued by Amnesty International.

Britain said its aim was not only to help with the crisis but to defeat Boko Haram.

“The team will be considering not just the recent incidents but also longer-term counter-terrorism solutions to prevent such attacks in the future and defeat Boko Haram,” the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement yesterday.

The American team was joined by six additional military officers and more are expected soon, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby. The U.S. officers will do a “gap analysis,” an assessment to identify what the Nigerian military needs that the U.S. could provide in the search for the girls, he said.

Hostage negotiations is another area where the American team will assist, said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

China, France and Spain have also promised help.

Demonstrations in support of the missing Nigerian girls have been held around the world and a social media campaign – dubbed #BringBackOurGirls – continued to grow.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council hinted at sanctions against Boko Haram. In a strongly worded statement, the council condemned a May 5 attack that killed and injured hundreds and demanded the immediate release of the kidnapped girls.

Council members also expressed their intention “to consider appropriate measures against Boko Haram,” which in diplomatic language means possible sanctions.

The weakness of the Nigerian armed forces was highlighted Friday in a report which said the military did not respond to warnings that Boko Haram rebels were about to attack Chibok, the town where the young women were abducted from their school.

Nigerian security forces had four hours of notice about the April 15 attack by the rebels but did not react because of their fear of engaging the extremists, said Amnesty International, in a report citing multiple interviews with credible sources.

“This abduction could have been prevented,” Amnesty spokeswoman Susanna Flood said of the Nigerian military’s inaction.

The mass kidnapping of the schoolgirls has focused the world’s attention on Boko Haram and on the response of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

“I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria,” said Jonathan at an economic forum on Thursday.

Jonathan’s government is accused of being slow to mount operations to rescue the girls, who were kidnapped on April 15, charges the government vehemently denies. The military said in a strong statement late Thursday that it opposed what it said were the attempts of some civic groups to “drag the military into politics.”

Boko Haram has staged many attacks in northeastern Nigeria over the years, a campaign of bombings and massacres that has intensified in recent times despite a strong military presence there. Since May 2013 there has been a state of emergency in three northeastern Nigerian states wracked by Boko Haram violence.

Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people this year. The militants, who want to impose Islamic Shariah law on Nigeria, abducted more than 300 girls from a boarding school in the northeastern town of Chibok. Fifty-three escaped but 276 remain captive. In a video seen by The Associated Press, Boko Haram’s leader threatens to sell the girls into slavery.

The government of Borno state, where Chibok is located, on Thursday identified the girls who escaped, potentially subjecting the girls to stigma in this conservative society.

The government said in a statement received Friday that the girls it identified by name include those who fled the day they were kidnapped and those who escaped from Boko Haram camps days later. It did not explain the decision to name the girls.

Chibok residents staged a street protest Friday to press Borno’s government to do more to find the missing girls.

Militants from Boko Haram are also believed to have carried out the bombing of a strategic bridge linking the town of Gamboru to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the headquarters of the Nigerian military offensive, a local government official confirmed Friday.

Gamboru was attacked on Monday by Boko Haram, leaving many dead. Estimates of the death toll from that attack ranged from 100 to as many as 300. Local security officials said on Friday that Boko Haram militants bombed the bridge as they retreated following the attack on Gamboru’s main market, where at least 50 bodies have since been discovered from the debris of burned shops.

Communications with the remote town are difficult and it was not immediately possible to reconcile conflicting accounts of when the bridge was bombed. One account said Monday while another said Thursday.

Local traders in Gamboru said Friday that their businesses were suffering, with trailers and heavy trucks now stranded on either side of the damaged bridge.

“We are in trouble,” said Gamboru resident Mamman Abu.

——

Umar reported from Bauchi, Nigeria. Associated Press writers Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Harold Heckle in Madrid, Danica Kirka in London, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations. and Deb Riechmann and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.