Watch above: Canada is one of the countries answering Nigeria’s call for help, as the urgency to find nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls intensifies. Jennifer Tryon reports.
- As many as 300 people reportedly killed in attack on town near Cameroon border
- Nigerian vice president asked Canada for “surveillance” and “vital hardware” to take on Boko Haram
- Canada confirmed it will provide “surveillance equipment and expertise”
- International Development Minister Christian Paradis visited Nigerian vice president on Tuesday
- Nigerian police offer more than 50 million naira (CDN $337,000) reward to help find kidnapped girls
Canada commits to help Nigeria, but not handover equipment
Canada has confirmed it will provide surveillance technology to help Nigeria locate hundreds of abducted schoolgirls and their captors, but not without Canadians to operate it.
During a meeting with Canada’s International Development Minister in Abuja on Tuesday, Vice President Namadi Sambo asked for assistance taking on the militant group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the mass abduction in the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno State.
“Sambo called for support and assistance from Canada in areas of surveillance equipment and other vital security hardware which would enhance Nigeria’s capacity in addressing insurgency,” a statement from the vice president’s office read.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office confirmed “Canada will provide surveillance equipment and the technical expertise to operate it.”
READ MORE: Protester: Nigeria’s 1st Lady orders arrests
But, Foreign Minister John Baird said the government will only provide the equipment to help with the search and rescue of the missing girls.
“We obviously would have concerns with Nigeria, with their human rights record… of just simply providing millions of dollars of military equipment as some sort of permanent gift,” Baird said following Question Period in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping of the girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School late Apr. 14.
In a video made public on Monday, Shekau also threatened to sell the girls as “slaves.”
WATCH: Nigerian police offer more than $300,000 for information on the whereabouts of 276 kidnapped schoolgirls
Militants open fire on night market, officials say hundreds killed
Nigerian officials said Wednesday that Islamic militants killed hundreds of people in a northeastern Nigeria town Monday night.
The attack in Gamboru Ngala, in Borno state near the border with Cameroon, went on for 12 hours, during which time assailants believed to be members of Boko Haram opened fire on residents in a busy night market and set fire to homes and shops.
Local newspaper ThisDay reported as many as 300 people were killed, many of them trying to escape the fires.
Federal Senator Ahmed Zannah blamed Boko Haram for the attack, ThisDay reported.
The attack is the latest incident attributed to Boko Haram, which has been fighting a deadly campaign to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law for the past five years.
According to Zannah, whose brother was at the scene of the attack, “dead bodies littered the market.”
Zannah told ThisDay Nigerian security forces had been in Gamboru Ngala to protect the area from a possible attack, but left a short time before the assault to follow up on reports Boko Haram militants were moving towards the border region with captive girls.
“Upon receiving information over the movement of insurgents with kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls towards Lake Chad area, they withdrew and moved to confront the gunmen,” he said.
“It was just an hour after their withdrawal that the terrorists invaded the town, shooting everyone in sight and setting buildings on fire.”
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.
The Canadian government listed Boko Haram as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code of Canada in December 2013.
With files from The Associated Press
© Shaw Media, 2014