Chibok Girls: US Begins Rescue Mission From Niger Republic
May 14, 2014 – Chibok Girls: US Begins Rescue Mission From Niger Republic
In its determination to help the Federal Government rescue the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram one month ago, the United States (US) has deployed surveillance planes used in military operations to comb all parts of Nigeria and locate the hostages.
This is coming at a time when the country is also considering deploying Drones to Nigeria, in the rescue mission. Also, it came as the Federal Government has expressed willingness to hold talks with Boko Haram.
According to an official, US is using MC-12 surveillance aircraft originally based in Niger Republic to conduct search and rescue missions, with the permission of the Federal Government, AP reported.
“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,” a senior administration official, who pleaded anonymity, said.
Gen. David Rodriguez, head of US Africa Command, arrived in Abuja yesterday, where he met leaders at the American Embassy and government officials. A 30-strong US team arrived Nigeria last week to join the rescue mission.
The White House said the team included five State Department officials, two strategic communications experts, a civilian security expert and a regional medical support officer.
Also on the manifest are 10 Defence Department planners, seven extra-military advisors from US Africa Command and four FBI experts in hostage negotiations.
“We are talking about helping the Nigerian government search an area that is roughly the size of New England,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, referring to the region in the US North East.
“So this is no small task. But we are certainly bringing resources to bear in our effort to assist the government,” he stated.
Britain, which has dispatched security experts to Nigeria, said it would offer “longer-term counter-terrorism solutions to prevent such attacks in the future and defeat Boko Haram.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said it was ready to hold talks with Boko Haram members.
Special Duties Minister, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, said that if Abubakar Shekau was sincere, he should send representatives for talks.
Turaki, who is chairman of a committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to find ways of reaching agreement with Boko Haram, said that Shekau should send people he trusts to meet the standing committee on reconciliation.
He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme: “Dialogue is a key option” in bringing the crisis to an end and “an issue of this nature can be resolved outside of violence.”
The Federal Government appears to have changed its stance in relation to talks, because it initially suggested there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram.
Interior Minister Abba Moro had on Monday ruled out holding talks with the militant body, when he said the issue on ground was not about Boko Haram negotiating.
Hours after Moro spoke, National Orientation Agency Director, Mike Omeri, said the government would “use whatever kind of action” it takes to free the girls.
He also warned that a military operation, with foreign help, was possible.
“At the moment, because all options are open we are interacting with experts, military and intelligence experts from other parts of the world,” he said late Monday, adding: “So these are part of the options that are available to us and many more.”
It was joy for a mother of an abducted schoolgirl, who identified her daughter in a video posted by Islamist rebels that showed dozens of girls in captivity.
Dumoma Mpur, parent-teachers association chairman at Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, told REUTERS that the woman watched the video and spotted her daughter among the girls sitting on the ground and wearing veils.
“The video got parents apprehensive again after watching it but the various steps taken by the governments and the coming of the foreign troops is boosting our spirit, even though I have not seen the any one soldier in Chibok yet,” Mpur said.
Some Borno residents told CNN that most of the girls shown in the Boko Haram video released on Monday may not have been taken in the April 14 attack.
According to an uncle of one of the girls who escaped, some of the girls seen in the video may have been abducted some two years ago.