U.S. Deploys 80 Military Personnel to Help Find Nigerian Girls

U.S. President Barack Obama has deployed 80 U.S. military personnel to Chad to help find more than 250 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants last month in neighboring Nigeria.

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Congress, Obama said the U.S. personnel will "support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft" over northern Nigeria and in "the surrounding area."  He said the force will remain in Chad to hunt for the children until it is no longer needed.

The girls were abducted by Boko Haram militants April 14 from a boarding school in a remote area close to Nigeria's border with Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Their whereabouts remains unknown. 

Nigerians take part in a protest demanding for the release of secondary school girls abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Asokoro district in Abuja, Nigeria on May 13, 2014. /Reuters Nigerians take part in a protest demanding for the release of secondary school girls abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Asokoro district in Abuja, Nigeria on May 13, 2014. /Reuters

The White House said last week that it had ordered U.S. surveillance flights over the region, and said commercial satellite images had been shared with the Nigerian government. State Department officials and federal investigators are also aiding the search.

The deployment announcement came just hours after witnesses say suspected militants killed nearly 30 people in two villages near Chibok, the town from which the school girls were kidnapped.

A Pentagon official confirmed that the U.S. sending 80 Air Force personnel to Chad to fly drones, help in search for missing Nigerian school girl.
 
Drones will be flying out of Chad unarmed and will allow for round-the-clock surveillance of NE Nigeria.

VOA News / May 22, 2014 08:04 KST