WASHINGTON (AP) — A handful of U.S. troops will arrive in Nigeria in the next few days to help find nearly 300 girls kidnapped by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, but the U.S. has no plans to launch any military operations, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said fewer than 10 troops are being sent as part of the larger U.S. assistance team to include State Department and Justice Department personnel. The military members will help with communications, logistics and intelligence-planning.
Warren said the U.S. was talking with Nigeria about information and intelligence-sharing, but nothing has been decided.
There are already about 70 military personnel in Nigeria, including 50 regularly assigned to the embassy, and 20 Marines have been there for training.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department was moving swiftly to put a team in place at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja that can provide military, law enforcement and information-sharing assistance in support of Nigeria's efforts to find and free the girls. She said the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria met Wednesday morning with Nigeria's national security adviser.
"Our legal attache has been in touch with Nigerian police," she said. "The FBI stands ready to send additional personnel, to provide technical and investigatory assistance, including expertise on hostage negotiations and USAID is working with partners on what we can do to be ready to provide victims' assistance."
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.