WASHINGTON, May 12 (Xinhua) -- A total of 16 military personnel from U.S. Africa Command have joined the international effort to help find hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists nearly one month ago, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.
Steve Warren said at a press conference that the group of 16 military personnel, including experts in communications, logistics, civil affairs, operations and intelligence, are among members of an interdisciplinary team led by the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, capital city of Nigeria.
Members of the militant group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from the Government Secondary boarding school in the town of Chibok, several hundred km east of Abuja, on the night of April 14.
"Their role is to assess the situation, advise and assist the Nigerian government in their efforts to respond to this crisis situation, and find the young women kidnapped by Boko Haram," the spokesman added.
A majority of the group members were staff officers and personnel from the embassy's Office of Security Cooperation, whose mission is to enhance the long-term bilateral defense relationship between Nigeria and the United States. The rest came into the country from outside Africa, he said.
On May 6, U.S. President Barack Obama said on NBC's "Today" program that the immediate priority is to find the girls, and then the world must address the broader problem of organizations like Boko Haram that "can cause such havoc in people's day-to-day lives. "
Boko Haram, a radical organization founded in 2002, seeks to establish a pure "Islamic state ruled by Sharia. The insurgency of the group has claimed estimated 10,000 lives between 2002 and 2013. The group has killed about 1,500 Nigerians since the beginning of this year.