Nigeria Accepts Israeli Offer to Help Find Abducted Schoolgirls

Prime Minister's Office expresses 'shock' at abduction of 200 schoolgirls; no details given on nature of assistance.

A protest in support of the abducted Nigerian girls, in Geneva
People protest in support of more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school, in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, May 10, 2014. AP

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted an Israeli offer to assist in the efforts to find hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram, AFP reported.

The offer was made on Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke with Jonathan by phone. "Israel expresses deep shock at the crime against the girls," Netanyahu told the Nigerian president, according to the prime minister's bureau. "We are ready to help in finding the girls and fighting the cruel terrorism inflicted on you."

A statement from the Nigerian president's office in Lagos later on Sunday said that Jonathan had "briefed Mr Netanyahu on actions already being taken by Nigeria's armed forces and security agencies to locate and rescue the girls, saying that Nigeria would be pleased to have Israel's globally acknowledged anti-terrorism expertise deployed to support its ongoing operations."

More than 200 schoolgirls were abducted last month by Islamist group Boko Haram in an attack that has drawn global condemnation and prompted some Western powers to provide assistance.

Netanyahu's offer did not elaborate on how Israel might assist in the search, which also includes British and U.S. experts. A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said he knew of no cooperation efforts under way.

Israel has defense ties with Nigeria, and has provided it in the past with surveillance drones. Last September, Israel was among several countries that sent advisers to Kenya to assist in a stand-off with Islamist gunmen who attacked a mall in Nairobi.