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Israel sends experts to help search for Nigerian schoolgirls

Reuters

May 20, 2014 | 8:54 am

<em>Nigerians take part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok in Nigeria on May 13. Photo by Jon Nazca/Reuters</em>

Nigerians take part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok in Nigeria on May 13. Photo by Jon Nazca/Reuters

Israel has sent intelligence experts to Nigeria to help search for more than 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

The team, which the official said included people experienced in dealing with hostage situations, will join a growing international effort to track down the children.

"These are not operational troops, they're there to advise," the Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. military is already flying manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft over Nigeria to look for the girls, whose abduction triggered a worldwide outcry and piled pressure on Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to deal with the rebels.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in its campaign to establish an Islamic state in mostly Muslim northeast Nigeria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his team out about a week ago after discussing the situation with Jonathan, the official added.

Israel has defense ties with a number of African countries, and had sold surveillance drones to Nigeria. Last September, Israel sent advisers to Kenya to help in a stand-off with Islamist attackers at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

Reporting by Dan Williams; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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