Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has welcomed a U.S. offer to send an American team to Nigeria to support the government's response to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by an Islamist militant group, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the American embassy in Nigeria is "prepared to form a coordination cell" that would include U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations.
The group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last month and has threatened to sell them into slavery. Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight more girls from a village near one of the Islamists' strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight, police and residents said on Tuesday.
Psaki said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Jonathan on Tuesday and that "President Jonathan welcomed Secretary Kerry's offer to send a team to Nigeria to discuss how the United States can best support Nigeria in its response."
President Barack Obama has directed that Kerry and the State Department "do everything we can to help the Nigerian government find and free these young women," Psaki added.
The U.S. "coordination cell" also would include people who could provide expertise on providing victim assistance, Psaki said.