US deploys surveillance aircraft over Nigeria in search for kidnapped schoolchildren

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The US has deployed manned surveillance aircraft over Nigeria to assist in efforts to find schoolchildren kidnapped in April by Boko Haram extremists, a senior Obama administration official told journalists.

“We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government’s permission,” the official said.

Earlier, the Pentagon announced that the US had sent servicemen to Nigeria. However, the Pentagon noted that the US had not planned to conduct military operations in the country. The group consists only of 10 servicemen. They will be part of the team, which will also include representatives of the US Department of State and US Department of Justice. The team will be tasked with assisting with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

US President Barack Obama has promised the Nigerian authorities to provide support in search for more than 270 schoolchildren taken hostage by the Boko Haram militant Islamist group.

The United States has sent military, law-enforcement and development experts to Nigeria to help search for the missing girls who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok in remote northeastern Nigeria on April 14.

Last week, US Undersecretary for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters in an interview that Nigeria had requested surveillance and intelligence from the United States. .

Both Nigeria and the US have said they do not know the whereabouts of the girls, although Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said he believes they are still in Nigeria.

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