By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to send a team of advisers to help Nigerian officials rescue more than 270 girls abducted from a boarding school last month or negotiate their release, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has agreed to accept the assistance, Carney said. He noted the U.S. offer does not include military resources.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry are meeting Tuesday to talk about the mass kidnapping and how the international community might help deal with the Islamic militants who claim credit for carrying it out and now threaten to sell the girls into slavery.
More than three weeks after the abductions, outrage is growing in Nigeria over the government’s failure to rescue the girls and to curb the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. The U.S. announcement followed news reports that gunmen kidnapped eight more girls from another Nigerian village overnight.
Carney did not openly criticize Nigerian officials for failing to locate and free the victims, but did point out the crisis has now gone on for 22 days.
“Time is of the essence,” he said, adding it is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to free the victims “before they are trafficked or killed.”
“We are absolutely committed to helping Nigeria,” Carney said, “but it is the Nigerian government’s responsibility first and foremost.”
In March, the Pentagon said that Obama was sending additional troops and military aircraft to Uganda as part of an effort to find Joseph Kony, the rebel commander who has terrorized civilians in central Africa for years.
But Carney said Tuesday the administration is not currently considering deploying troops or other military resources as part of the Nigerian effort.
©afp.com / Robert MacPherson