TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Says No Ransom For Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

Kidnapped schoolgirls are seen at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Boko Haram
Reuters Kidnapped schoolgirls are seen at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Boko Haram.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States would not support ransom or prisoner exchange as part of a deal to release more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls who have been held captive by the extremist group Boko Haram since last month.

The United States would oppose any ransom payment or prisoner exchange to free more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last month by the extremist group Boko Haram, the Obama Administration said Tuesday.

“It is the policy of the United States to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, and that includes ransoms or concessions,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked whether Obama would support negotiations with Boko Haram, which abducted the girls last month.

The Nigerian government also rejected releasing prisoners this week.

“What I can tell you is that we’re focused on working with the Nigerian government to locate and bring home those girls,” Carney said. “That includes a team of [U.S. officials in the country]. It also includes manned reconnaissance flights that I can confirm we are conducting in cooperation with the Nigerian government.”

The kidnapping has sparked global condemnation of Boko Haram and criticism of Nigeria’s government for how it handled the aftermath. The U.S. recently sent a team of officials from the FBI, the Department of State and the Department of Defense to aid in the search. Carney wouldn’t say whether the team of U.S. hostage negotiators in Nigeria wold encourage the government to negotiate with Boko Haram.

Some senior lawmakers are floating the idea of sending special forces to help find the girls, who appeared for the first time since their kidnapping in a video released by Boko Haram on Monday.

“The Nigerians ought to be handling things in their own backyard, but frankly it’s a big vast country with a bunch of bad guys acting like cowboys and running around,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told TIME. “They can’t handle it. I think that’s why we’re treading very carefully, but we’ve got to be more forceful than what we’ve been thus far.”

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