Britain offers help in hunt for abducted Nigerian girls
Britain is in talks with Nigerian security forces to help rescue hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls still missing three weeks after they were seized by a militant Islamist group.
The Government said it was ready to give "practical assistance" as Nigerian troops were reported to be massing around a forest where at least 223 teenage girls were thought to have been taken after a night raid on their dormitories.
The Nigerian government has faced widespread criticism for its impotent response to the kidnapping and desperate parents have demanded that it seek foreign aid if necessary to rescue their daughters.
Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, has called on Britain to help free the girls and offer military assistance. A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: "If we can provide practical assistance we stand ready to do so. We are discussing how we might help with various parts of the Nigerian government and security services."
Officials declined to say whether British help would include UK Special Forces. British troops have operated in the country before.
Pressure intensified on the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday to free the girls, who were seized from a school in Chibok by Boko Haram militants on April 14.
Mr Jonathan held meetings yesterday with security, school and state officials to tell them "everything must be done".
Nigerian troops were reportedly massing around a forest in the north east of the country in preparation for an assault on hideouts where the captives, aged 15 to 18, were thought to be held.
Boko Haram, whose name means "western education is forbidden", is a violent jihadist group that has extended its sway in parts of Muslim northern Nigeria dramatically.
The mass abduction is one of the group's most shocking attacks in an uprising that is thought to have killed 1,500 people this year alone. (© Daily Telegraph, London)