Eight girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were abducted from the village of Warabe, in northeast Nigeria. The region is a stronghold for Boko Haram, and CNN reported that the girls were taken Sunday night as armed member of the group went door-to-door abducting girls and attacking anyone who stood in their way.
Following Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that the U.S. would “do everything possible” to help the hundreds of Nigerian school girls that have been abducted since mid-April, President Obama explained Tuesday night some of what that would mean: “So what we've done is - we have offered, and it's been accepted - help from our military and our law enforcement officials,” Obama told NBC News' Al Roker. “We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them.”
Kerry also spoke to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and announced a “coordination cell” in the U.S. embassy in Nigeria that would start “immediately.”
“Our embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell that could provide expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations and to help facilitate information-sharing and victim assistance,” Kerry said at a news conference Tuesday. “President Goodluck Jonathan was very happy to receive this offer and ready to move on it immediately.”
Kerry insisted that the U.S. has not delayed a response to the situation in Nigeria, but that U.S. officials have “been in touch from day one and our embassy has been engaged and we have been engaged, but the [Nigerian] government had its own set of strategies in the beginning.”
The Nigerian government on Tuesday defended its response so far in trying to find the missing girls. A spokesman for Jonathan told CNN that the government hadn’t ignored or downplayed the situation.
“The president and the government [are] not taking this as easy as people all over the world think,” Jonathan’s spokesman, Doyin Okupe, said. “We've done a lot – but we are not talking about it. We're not Americans. We're not showing people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something.”
Okupe said two special battalions had devoted time to searching for the missing girls, and more than 250 locations had been searched by helicopters and airplanes.
The father of two of the missing girls, however, told CNN that he didn’t believe the government’s claim.
“Had there been these military men who went into the bush to rescue our daughters, we would have seen them,” He said. “We have never seen any military man there.”