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Abducted Chibok Girls: US Deploys Manned Surveillance Aircrafts

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 13, (THEWILL) â€' The United States has deployed manned surveillance aircrafts over Nigeria and is sharing satellite imagery with the Nigerian government to locate over 200 teenage school girls abducted by the Boko Haram, a senior Obama administration official said Monday.

The girls were seized from their dormitory on April 14 in Chibok and the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, has boasted that the girls will be sold as slaves for as little as $14. On Monday, he offered to release them in exchange for members of its group being detained, according to a video posted on YouTube.

'We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government's permission,' the U.S. official told news agency Reuters.

The Obama government as well as the governments of the United Kingdom, Israel, France and China have pledged intelligence assets and expertise to help locate and rescue the girls

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing on Monday that the U.S. was providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. She said U.S. teams on the ground 'are digging in on the search and coordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies.'

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, said the United States was also considering deploying unmanned, drone aircraft to aid the search.

One of the U.S. officials said the United States had been carrying out the manned surveillance flights 'for a few days' but did not elaborate.

Last week, U.S. Undersecretary for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters in an interview that Nigeria had requested surveillance and intelligence from the United States.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Governor of Borno State believe the girls are still in Nigeria even though the western media had speculated that the girls may have been separated and taken across the border.