*(Via Mail & Guardian) – The United States has deployed about 80 military personnel to Chad in its effort to help find and return more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, US President Barack Obama told Congress on Wednesday.
“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders.
The forces are to remain in Chad until they are no longer needed, Obama added.
A senior Obama administration official said the military personnel were deployed to Chad with the consent of that government. Some will maintain the unmanned aircraft involved in the mission and the rest will provide security for the group.
The girls were taken in April from a boarding school close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, Niger and Chad in a sparsely populated region. Their whereabouts are unknown.
The kidnappings have generated an outpouring of concern from the United States, with Obama’s wife, Michelle, speaking out about the crisis. The president himself has resisted some calls from Republicans in Congress to send special forces into Nigeria to search for the girls.
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