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US team arrives in Nigeria to aid in search for missing girls

A group of U.S. military advisers arrived in Nigeria on Friday to assist in the search for nearly 300 missing schoolgirls.
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria, May 8, 2014.
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria, May 8, 2014.

Seven U.S. military advisers arrived Friday in Nigeria to help plan the search for nearly 300 missing schoolgirls, fulfilling a promise made earlier this week by Secretary of State John Kerry to assist Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

There are now 18 U.S. personnel in the African country, including 11 individuals permanently assigned to assist military forces, senior defense officials told NBC News, adding that the mission is not for rescue but to advise leaders in their search process.

"Our inter-agency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria now and they are going to be working in concert with President Goodluck Jonathan's government to do everything that we possibly can to return these girls to their families and their communities," Kerry said late Thursday, according to NBC News. "We are also going to do everything possible to counter the menace of Boko Haram."

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Kerry offered aid to President Jonathan Tuesday in the search for the missing girls. The Nigerian leader accepted Kerry's pitch on the same day the Islamist militant group Boko Haram allegedly abducted eight more girls from Africa's most populous nation.

The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of at least 276 Nigerian schoolgirls and threatened to “sell” the young women on the market. Three weeks ago, the suspected kidnappers took the girls from their dormitories at a school in Chibok, Nigeria and drove away with them in trucks during the middle of the night.

World leaders, including President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, every female U.S. senator and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have either offered assistance or called on the international community to impose further sanctions on Boko Haram.

"The entire world should not only be condemning this outrage, but should be doing everything possible to help Nigeria in the days ahead," Kerry said on Thursday.

President Jonathan promised to conquer terrorism in a speech given to the World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria. He also thanked the United States, United Kingdom, China and France for their governments' commitments to resolve the issue.

"By God's grace we will conquer the terrorists," he said to the audience on Thursday. "I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria."