UK & World News
FBI Set To Join Hunt For Nigeria Schoolgirls
Agents from the FBI will reportedly join a US team heading to Nigeria to help find more than 200 abducted schoolgirls, according to Sky News sources.
A law enforcement source briefed on the US deployment to Nigeria told Sky News the FBI had offered to take part.
The source said the agents are likely to be from the New York FBI field office, which has responsibility for that part of the world. It is also the main counter terror operations unit.
The United States earlier announced that military personnel and law enforcement officials with expertise in hostage negotiations would be sent as soon as possible to assist the Nigerian government in the search.
State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said the offer of assistance was welcomed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram seized at least 276 youngsters from a school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, north Nigeria on April 14.
Nigerian police said 53 managed to escape shortly after the attack, but at least 223 are still missing. Relatives suggest that figure could be considerably higher.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video threatening to sell the girls, admitting for the first time that his group was behind the abduction.
Describing the students as "slaves," he said: "I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah."
Barack Obama said the kidnapping could be "the event that helps to mobilise the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organisation".
"It's a heartbreaking situation, outrageous situation," the US President told US broadcaster ABC.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has joined the US in pledging "practical help" in the search, although has also not clarified exactly what that would entail.
He said: "What has happened here ... the actions of Boko Haram to use girls as the spoils of war, the spoils of terrorism, is disgusting. It is immoral."
His comments came as reports emerged that suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped a further eight girls from another Nigerian village overnight.
The girls, aged 12 to 15, were abducted near one of the militant group's strongholds in the northeast of the country.
A police source, who could not be named, said the girls were taken away on trucks, along with stolen livestock and food.
The Nigerian government has faced fierce criticism over its failure to contain the Islamist group, whose name means 'Western education is sinful'.
However the brazenness of April's mass abduction has particularly shocked Nigerians accustomed to atrocities in the five-year conflict with the insurgents.
A group called Bring Back Our Girls, comprising relatives of the missing students, have staged regular protests across Nigeria calling for the government and military to do more to find the girls.
Some 200 people gathered outside the Nigerian embassy in Washington on Tuesday in solidarity with Nigeria's protest movement.
Chanting "bring back our girls" and "no more abuse," protesters urged President Goodluck Jonathan to show what one speaker called "testicular fortitude" to resolve the crisis.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said "time is of the essence" in the hunt for the girls.
"Appropriate action must be taken to locate and to free these young women before they are trafficked or killed," he said.
"We urge the Nigerian government to ensure that it is bringing all appropriate resources to bear in a concerted effort to ensure their safe return."