Canada offers to help Nigeria secure release of Chibok schoolgirls
Watch: The Nigerian government has been unable, or unwilling, to do anything to locate the hundreds of schoolgirls Boko Haram kidnapped three weeks ago. Under mounting pressure, the government has agreed to international help. Jennifer Tryon reports.
Canada joined the United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday in pledging assistance to the Nigerian government and its efforts to find the hundreds of girls held captive by Boko Haram since April 14.
Echoing statements he made last week, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird again called Boko Haram’s actions “repugnant” and said “our hearts go out to these young girls and their families.
During question period in the House of Commons, Baird said Minister of International Development Christian Paradis “recently offered Canada’s full assistance to Nigerian authorities, as they work to secure the release of these young girls.”
Borno state officials said 276 girls are still being held captive: As many as 53 girls escaped their their kidnappers in the days following the attack on the school. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported 276 teenage girls were taken and 223 are still in captivity.
WATCH: Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Baird pledges Canada’s full support in the search for the abducted school girls
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State John Kerry told Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan the U.S. would send a team to help find the girls.
White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed that team would include military personnel (but not troops), intelligence officials and hostage negotiators.
The commitments came a day after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitted the group kidnapped the teenage girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School the night of Apr. 14 and threatened to sell them as “slaves.”
WATCH: Leader of Boko Haram vows to sell abducted girls in a market
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau said in a video obtained by AFP.
More girls kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria: report
Boko Haram was blamed for abducting another group of girls in the town of Warabe, also in Borno state.
According to Reuters, gunmen believed to be members of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped eight girls from the village of Warabe overnight.
“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village,” Reuters reported Warabe resident Lazarus Musa saying.
Warabe is in the northeastern state of Borno, the same state where Boko Haram admitted to taking hundreds of girls from a school dormitory last month, and is reported to be near a Boko Haram stronghold.
Reuters cited a police source saying the assailants took eight girls, all between the ages of 12 and 15, away in trucks. The also stole livestock and food, the police source said.
Boko Haram has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, governed by Sharia law, for the past five years and has been responsible for a string of deadly attacks.
According to The Associated Press, there have been at least 1,500 deaths as a result of Boko Haram-related violence this year alone. It’s estimated Boko Haram has killed as many as 10,000 people since its formation in 2002.
The name loosely translates from the Hausa language to mean “Western education is forbidden” or “Western education is a sin.”
The Canadian government listed Boko Haram as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code of Canada in December 2013.
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