London (AFP) – Britain will send a small team of experts to Nigeria to help respond to the kidnap of more than 200 girls, a Downing Street spokesman said Wednesday.
The team will concentrate on planning, coordination and advice to local authorities rather than operations on the ground to look for the girls, who were seized by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram on April 14.The team will fly to Nigeria “as soon as possible”, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan accepted the offer when the two leaders spoke by telephone earlier Wednesday.
The experts will be drawn from government departments including the defence, international development and foreign affairs ministries and may include military officers.
US President Barack Obama has sent military experts to Nigeria to help in the search and the British team will complement their efforts.
Cameron’s spokesman could not say how large the team would be.
In his phone call with Jonathan, Cameron expressed his “shock at the appalling attack and wholehearted support for the Nigerian people”, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
“Both leaders also agreed that their respective governments should explore how to further strengthen co-operation on counter-terrorism in the longer term to prevent such attacks in the future,” she added.
“The prime minister and president agreed on the importance of the international community working together to meet the challenge posed by Islamic extremism and violence.”
Speaking in parliament earlier, Cameron condemned the kidnapping as “an act of pure evil”.
“It has united people across the planet to stand with Nigeria to help find these children and return them to their parents,” he told lawmakers.
Cameron said Britain had made “repeated offers of help” since the kidnap.
“This is not just a Nigerian issue; it is a global issue,” he added.
“There are extreme Islamists around our world who are against education, against progress, against equality and we must fight them and take them on wherever they are.”