(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking out for the first time on the horrific kidnapping, President Obama on Tuesday called the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls “heartbreaking” and “outrageous.” It’s been 22 days since the 276 girls were taken from their school by extremist militants from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sinful.” The group has since threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
The girls’ plight has attracted international condemnation and spurred a global call to action. “You’ve got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they’ve been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we’ve already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians -- this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime,” the president told ABC News’ Ginger Zee.
On Tuesday, the White House announced it will send a team to Nigeria to aid the effort to find the girls and those responsible, amid criticism that the Nigerian government has not done enough to rescue them.
“We’ve already sent in a team to Nigeria -- they’ve accepted our help through a combination of military, law enforcement, and other agencies who are going in, trying to identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help,” Obama said.
The president’s comments come just hours after the Senate passed a resolution condemning the kidnapping, saying it’s time to send a message to the “bad guys” that they need to leave the girls alone.
“This is an outrage, an outrage against these girls and an outrage in the international community and we need to speak up as a nation, women and men together saying what is this, where a girl can’t go to school simply because she’s a girl?” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. said on the Senate floor.
“This is a horrific situation. Kidnapping certainly has no place in any village, in any region, in any country,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said. “The voices of the civilized world must rise up and be louder than the terrorists who are taking away basic human rights.”
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