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U.S. Sending Team To Help With Search For Abducted Nigerian Girls

Nigeria has accepted a U.S. offer to send a team that could help in the search for 276 girls who were abducted from a school last month, the State Department said today.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during her daily briefing that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had "welcomed" an offer for help that Secretary of State John Kerry made during a phone call today.

Psaki said the "coordination cell" would head to Nigeria to "discuss how the U.S. can best support Nigeria in its response." The team, Psaki said, could help with intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations and will be made up of an interdisciplinary team including law enforcement and military personnel.

As we've reported, Jonathan's government has been criticized for its inability to find the girls. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the abductions on Monday.

In a video, the group's leader vowed to "sell them in the market."

Earlier today, Bill reported that about 200 armed militants in 20 pickup trucks are thought to be responsible for the abductions. According to witnesses, the men were in uniform and said they were soldiers.

Update at 6:10 p.m. ET:

"We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance," President Obama told NBC News on Tuesday.

"In the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies," he said. In the longer term, he said, "we're also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this that can causes such havoc in people's day-to-day lives."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.