President Obama has promised that the US will "do everything we can to recover" the 276 schoolgirls seized by militants in Nigeria three weeks ago. A White House spokesman says the team the US is sending to the country will include military and law enforcement personnel skilled in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiating, and victim assistance, but no American troops will be sent, the AP reports. More:
- Saving the girls—who the militants have threatened to sell into slavery—is the top priority, Obama says, but the militant group needs to be rooted out. "You've got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they've been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we've already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians," he told ABC. "This may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization."
- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been strongly criticized for his response to the crisis, says the country's security forces "would appreciate" American counter-insurgency expertise, the BBC reports. John Kerry says the US will set up a co-ordination cell at its embassy in Abuja.
- More details have surfaced in the kidnapping of at least eight more girls, the New York Times finds. Villagers say the militants seized grain and livestock, threw the girls in a bus, and warned them not to alert authorities. The group has apparently carried out similar attacks in the area before. "This has been going on," says a local official. "It's been a common practice. They come and attack a place and seize girls. They just have been doing this."
- Fox profiles the group's notoriously ruthless leader Abubakar Shekau. The leader, who has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, is known both for his brutality and his ability to keep a low profile. The US, which declared him to be a "specially designated global terrorist" in 2012, has offered a $7 million reward for information leading to his location.