Washington, D.C. -- The United States is sending a team to Nigeria to help search for more than 200 girls who were kidnapped from their school last month.
An Islamist extremist group called Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for the abduction and threatening to sell the girls.
Families of the missing students have been protesting across Nigeria because they feel the government’s response to the incident has been inadequate.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t make a statement about the kidnapping until Sunday. He says the government doesn’t know the whereabouts of the missing girls.
He has accepted the United States’ offer to help find the girls. A team will be sent to Nigeria as soon as possible, consisting of military and law enforcement personnel with expertise in intelligence and hostage negotiations.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the country isn’t sending armed forces.
President Barack Obama says he’s deeply disturbed by the kidnapping.
“Look this is a terrible situation,” he said. “Boka Haram, this terrorist organization that's been operating in Nigeria, has been killing people and innocent civilians for a very long time. We've always identified them as one of the worst local or regional terrorist organizations there is out there. And, I can only imagine what the parents are going thru.”
Obama says the short term goal is to help find the missing girls. But, he says the horrific incident points to a larger problem.
“We're also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this, that, uh, you know, can cause such havoc in people's day to day lives,” he said.