Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nigeria: Update--US Surveillance Aircraft Fly Over Northeastern Sector of Country

According to Reuters, US surveillance aircraft have been flying over remote areas of northeastern Nigeria as part of an international effort to locate some 200 school-girls kidnapped a month ago by the terror group, Boko Haram, who kidnapped the girls in mid-April. 

Thousands of Nigerian troops have been sent to the region, while the the US and UK  also have teams on the ground to help with the search.

It has also brought global publicity to Boko Haram, which has killed upwards of 10,000 Nigerians since it took up arms in 2009, to fight for an Islamist state that embraces sharia law.

The group had initially threatened to sell the girls into slavery, but on Monday (May 12) offered to trade them for detained militants.

COMMENT: As I have said previously, one of four residents in Sub-Saharan Africa is a Nigerian, a country twice the size of the US state of California.

To make matters worse, foreign nations involved in the search (China, France, the US and UK, as well as INTERPOL) are essentially working off a "very cold trail." 

Ideally, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan should have requested foreign help well over a month ago, when the girls were first abducted.

Those nations participating in the search have not said how long they will be deployed in the search effort.

The girls' exact whereabouts and whether they are being held in multiple locations is not known. Chibok is close to Nigeria's border with Cameroon, Niger and Chad in a sparsely populated area of the Sahel region.

What is also unknown is whether Boko Haram has moved the girls into neighboring countries where the borders are ill-defined.
 
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau posted a video on Monday offering to release the girls in exchange for prisoners held by the government. 

The video showed more than 110 girls sitting on the ground in a rural location chanting, singing and wearing veils. It was not clear when it was filmed or whether Shekau, who sat in front of a green backdrop holding an AK-47 during part of the video, was in the same location as the girls.