U.S. Offers to Help Nigeria in Hunt for Abducted Girls

nigeria girls
Women react during a protest demanding security forces to search harder for 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants two weeks ago, outside Nigeria's parliament in Abuja April 30, 2014. Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it had offered Nigeria help in its search for around 200 girls abducted by Islamist militants from a school in the northeast of the country.

"We have been engaged with the Nigerian government in discussions on what we might do to help support their efforts to find and free these young women," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a daily briefing. "We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can."

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on April 14 stormed an all-girls secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, packing the teenagers onto trucks and disappearing into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The brutality of the school attack has shocked Nigerians long accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north.

Harf did not elaborate on the kind of assistance Washington is offering, but said: "We know Boko Haram is active in the area and we have worked very closely with the Nigerian government to build their capacity to fight this threat."

In fiscal year 2012, the United States provided over $20 million in security assistance to Nigeria, part of that to build the country's military, boost its capacity to investigate terrorist attacks and enhance the government's forensic capabilities, she said.

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