Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nigeria schoolgirl kidnap: US aircraft join hunt for girls as government uses Boko Haram video to try and confirm captives’ identities



Nigeria schoolgirl kidnap: US aircraft join hunt for girls as government uses Boko Haram video to try and confirm captives’ identities

The US has begun deploying manned aircraft over Nigeria to hunt for the hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, officials have said, as authorities in the country scrambled to glean any useful information they could from a video posted by the militant group to YouTube.

The footage, including a 10-minute clip purporting to show some of the missing girls praying with their heads bowed, has been reproduced under orders from the state governor of Borno, where they were abducted four weeks ago.
Local officials have been tasked with travelling to the remote area and circulating the video among families in a bid to verify the identity of the girls involved, but governor Kashim Shettima reportedly described the development as “encouraging” as proof the captives had not been moved out of the country.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Obama administration in Washington said that the US had begun scouring the vast area of forest, described as being around three times the size of Wales, where Boko Haram were believed to be holding the girls.
“We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government's permission,” the US official said.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing late on Monday that the US was providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. She said teams on the ground “are digging in on the search and coordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies”.

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