PARIS (AFP) – France on Wednesday offered Nigeria a “special team” to look for more than 200 girls kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in an incident that has triggered global shock and condemnation.
The extremists seized a first batch of schoolgirls in Nigeria’s restive northeast three weeks ago, saying they were holding them as “slaves” and threatening to sell them, and have since kidnapped other girls in the area.
“A special team with all our resources in the region is at the disposal of Nigeria to help in the search and recovery of these young girls,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament.
President Francois Hollande is due to hold phone talks with his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan on the subject on Wednesday evening, sources close to the French leader said.
France already has troops on the ground in Mali not far away, where they continue to engage in intelligence gathering to further weaken armed Islamists in the north after driving them out of towns they had occupied for months.
“The president gave the defence minister and myself the order… to put our (intelligence) services at the disposal of Nigeria and neighbouring countries,” Fabius said.