May 13, 2014

U.S. mission in place to aid in the search for 250 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria

The US are conducting surveillance flights over Nigeria in the search for more than 250 abducted schoolgirls and is considering the deployment of drones to the region to bolster the effort.
The US has 27 experts and security officials assigned to the mission already in place in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The team includes five State Department officials, 10 Pentagon planners and advisers who were already in Nigeria, and seven more sent from the U.S. military’s Africa Command, along with four FBI experts in safe recovery, negotiations and prevention of kidnappings.
Officials say U.S. drones could be called into service in hunt for the 250 schoolgirls abducted by Islamists.
The United States will use its own satellite or other surveillance data and provide intelligence analysis for the search effort.
A senior Pentagon official said that the United States has not mobilized drones to aid the search but that commanders in Africa are exploring whether to do so.
The United States has drones at three military outpost in Africa — in Djibouti in the eastern Horn of Africa, where both armed and unarmed aircraft are based, and in Ethi­o­pia and Niger, which shares a long border with Nigeria. The U.S. Air Force began using unarmed drones from Niger early last year on surveillance missions in search of al-Qaeda fighters and guerrillas from other groups in north and west Africa.
The United States also is likely to provide help monitoring and intercepting communications among members of Boko Haram.
U.S. officials cautioned that the mission to find the schoolgirls would not be easy.

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