The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

World News

May 14, 2014

Nigeria opens door for talks with kidnappers

(Continued)

ABUJA, Nigeria —

The Nigerian military said in a statement that Rodriguez visited Nigeria's defense headquarters to discuss U.S. support for Nigeria's campaign against the Boko Haram militants, who have killed more than 1,500 people this year in a campaign of bombings, massacres and kidnappings.

Nigeria's government initially said there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram, but that stance appeared to have been relaxed amid growing public outrage at home and abroad over the failure to rescue the girls.

Mike Omeri, the director of the government's information agency, said all options were being considered, including the possibility of a military operation with foreign help.

"At the moment, because all options are open, we are interacting with experts, military and intelligence experts from other parts of the world," he said late Monday. "These are part of the options that are available to us, and many more."

In a statement late Tuesday, authorities in Borno state said that 54 girls in the video had been identified by relatives and friends, including four of some 50 students who managed to escape their captors. At least 276 girls are still missing.

"Fifty-four of the girls in the video have been identified by their names in an exercise that involved some parents of the girls, fellow students, some teachers, security men and some officials of the Borno state government," said Isa Umar Gusau, a spokesman for the Borno state governor.

In the video, a camouflage-clad Shekau appeared separately from the girls, an assault rifle slung over his chest, and warned menacingly: "I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured."

He said the girls, most of whom are Christians, had converted to Islam.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sinful," has waged a five-year campaign of bombings, massacres and abductions that has killed thousands in its drive to impose an Islamic state on Africa's most populous nation. It has tried to root out Western influence by targeting schools, as well as attacking churches, mosques, government buildings and security services in the country of 170 million, divided between a predominantly Christian south and Muslim north.

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