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May 15, 2014 AT 12:55 PM
A top Defense Department official on Thursday strongly criticized the Nigerian government for an ineffective campaign against Boko Haram, the terrorists who have held 376 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls for a month. Alice Friend, the department’s principal director for Africa, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Nigerian security forces have been too slow to change their strategy and tactics to fight the group. American reconnaissance planes have flown over Nigeria this week looking for the girls, and Nigerian officials have said that all options are open, including negotiating with Boko Haram or launching a military rescue with foreign help. A State Department official told Congress on Thursday, finding and freeing the 276 schoolgirls held by terrorists in Nigeria “is now one of the highest priorities” of the United States.