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AFRICOM curtails aerial search for kidnapped Nigerian girls

Jul. 2, 2014 - 04:27PM   |  
Thousands of Filipino students joined on June 27 as part of a global campaign to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria.
Thousands of Filipino students joined on June 27 as part of a global campaign to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria. (Bullit Marquez / The Associated Press)
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Nearly three months since Islamic militant group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian girls, the U.S. has reduced the number of surveillance aircraft that are looking for the missing girls, said U.S. Africa Command spokesman Benjamin Benson.

Africa Command has shifted surveillance aircraft from the search effort to other missions, said Benson, who could not say how many aircraft remain committed to the search for the missing girls, citing security concerns. The command assigns aircraft to missions based on operational need.

“In the case of the support to the Nigerian search, we have not pulled ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] from this effort prematurely because of competing requirements,” Benson said in an email to Military Times.

The U.S. flies unmanned surveillance aircraft from bases in Niger, Djibouti and Chad, he said.

“AFRICOM supports a range of security missions, including surveillance, counterterrorism, bilateral security engagements, and counter-piracy,” Benson said. “All activities are conducted at the request of partner nations and in close coordination with governments in affected regions.”

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