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BAUCHI, Nigeria (AP) — British experts arrived in the Nigerian capital on Friday to help find at least 276 girls being held by Islamic militants in northeastern Nigeria as an international effort began taking hold.
The experts were expected to work closely with U.S. officials and agents in the search for the missing girls, the British government said as Boko Haram militants continued to stage attacks in northeastern Nigeria. China and France have also promised help, and the deputy prime minister of Spain, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told reporters in Madrid on Friday that her government had decided to make available a specialist team from the police to assist, if Nigeria approves.
Britain said its aim was not only to help with the current crisis but to defeat Boko Haram.
"The team will be considering not just the recent incidents but also longer-term counter-terrorism solutions to prevent such attacks in the future and defeat Boko Haram," the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement Friday.
A local government official confirmed that the Islamic extremists bombed a bridge linking the town of Gamboru to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the headquarters of the Nigerian military offensive. Gamboru was attacked on Monday by Boko Haram, leaving many dead. Estimates of the death toll from that attack ranged from 100 to as many as 300.
Communications with the remote town are difficult and it was not immediately possible to reconcile conflicting accounts of when the bridge was bombed. One account said Monday while another said Thursday.
The bombing of the bridge would prevent army convoys reaching Gamboru while leaving the way open for the insurgents to escape across a strategic bridge into neighboring Cameroon — a bridge leading into mountains where the militants are known to have hideouts in caves.
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