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Nigeria Terror Suspect Arrested as U.S. Hunts for Abducted Girls

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 03:08 PM

Interpol Wednesday addressed a key suspect in a bombing that killed 75 people in the Nigerian capital Abuja, as the U.S. conducted surveillance flights searching for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last month by Boko Haram terrorists.

Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, a British-born, former Nigerian military intelligence officer and army deserter, was arrested in Sudan by Interpol, Mike Omeri, a spokesman for the government, told reporters Abuja. “Arrangements are being made to extradite him to Nigeria.”

The capital’s worst attack on April 14 in the Nyanya district occurred the same day terrorists attacked a school in Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno and abducted 276 schoolgirls. Two weeks later another bomb exploded several yards away from the site of the earlier one, killing 19 people. Boko Haram took responsibility for the attacks.

Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins confirmed the use of U.S. planes in efforts to locate the girls. In addition, a Global Hawk drone is assisting in the search, according to U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing the addition of the unmanned aircraft.

The United State has joined countries including Britain., China and Israel in offering to help Nigeria rescue the girls from Boko Haram. The group has conducted a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Islamic law in Africa’s top oil producer, leaving more than 4,000 people dead and forcing almost half a million to flee their homes, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

The United States is “not actively considering” sending in any special operations forces for a potential rescue, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday in Washington.

The kidnapping sparked international outrage, and a global campaign to free the girls has been joined by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. Australia’s government said today it plans to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, according to an e-mailed statement.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was criticized for not speaking publicly about the issue for almost three weeks. Jonathan yesterday asked parliament to extend a year-old state of emergency in three northeastern stronghold of Boko Haram, which means “western education is a sin” in the Hausa language.

Nigeria said this week it’s considering a prisoner exchange with Boko Haram after the militant group threatened to hold the schoolgirls until its detained members are freed.

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, made the demand in a video sent to reporters on May 12 that shows about 130 girls reciting lines from the Koran. In a previous video, Shekau had threatened to sell the girls in “markets” and marry them off.

Staff and parents at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok have identified 77 girls in the video, according to Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima’s office.

A month after the kidnapping, it’s now almost impossible to mount a rescue operation, said a U.S. official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The girls have probably been split up, sold into slavery or taken across Nigeria’s borders, the official said. Even if they were still together, a rescue operation against their heavily armed and experienced kidnappers in a remote area would risk killing a substantial number of the hostages, he said.

 

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Wednesday, 14 May 2014 03:08 PM
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