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article imageNigeria's president optimistic about finding missing kids

By Nathan Salant     May 11, 2014 in World
Abuja - Nigeria should be able to recover more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from their school by Islamic militants last month, President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday as a new offer of help arrived from Israel.
"With the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria's efforts," Jonathan said, "success will soon be achieved."
Jonathan gave that assessment hours after Israel offered help to track down the missing girls and the members of the Boko Haram militant group that claimed to have kidnapped them, according to the Reuters news service.
The girls were taken from a Chibok secondary school on April 14 and have not been heard from since.
Boko Haram is believed to be in league with al-Qaida and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other Western nations.
The group has killed thousands since 2009 in its fight to set up an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria, Reuters said.
Shortly after the girls were taken, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to sell them into slavery, Reuters said.
The United States and Britain have already sent experts to Nigeria to help with search efforts, and Israel's offer on Sunday also was welcomed by Jonathan.
"Nigeria would be pleased to have Israel's globally acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations," he said in a statement issued by his office in Abuja, the capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office gave no details of the proferred assistance, but Jonathan said Netanyahu offered to send a team of counter-terrorism experts.
Jonathan's government has been under attack of late for not responding quickly and forcefully enough to the kidnapping, although he has recently committed to army divisions to the search.
French President Francois Hollande offered Sunday to host a summit in Paris next weekend to discuss Boko Haram with Nigeria and its neighbors.
"With Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, I have proposed to hold a meeting with the countries bordering Nigeria," Hollande said on a visit to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger also would be likely to attend such a summit, Hollande's office said Sunday.
On Sunday, dozens of people protested in Abuja's Unity Park to point out the lack of progress in finding the missing schoolgirls, Reuters said.
Demonstrators chanted, "Bring back our girls now and alive," Reuters said, as dozens of police officers kept watch in a city troubled by recent violence.
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