- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The U.S. is preparing to send a team to help the Nigerian government track down more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted three weeks ago by Islamic gunmen, the White House said Tuesday.

The team would likely include military personnel, law enforcement personnel and others with experience in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiation and victims’ assistance, Fox News reported.

“Time is of the essence,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a press briefing. “Appropriate action must be taken to locate and to free these young women before they are trafficked or killed.”

Presently, it’s unclear whether the team has been given the go-ahead.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke earlier with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who “welcomed” the help, Mr. Carney said.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the “interdisciplinary team” would include “U.S. military personnel, law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations as well as officials with expertise in other areas that may be helpful to the Nigerian government in its response,” Fox News reported.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the April 15 attack on a secondary school in the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok, and the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau vowed to sell the roughly 220 abducted girls.

The militants reportedly struck again Tuesday, abducting eight more girls in the middle of the night from the village of Warabe.

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