Mia Kuumba, of the District of Columbia, brandishes a wooden stick during a rally in front of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
The White House will send a team to Nigeria to aid in the search for nearly 300 kidnapped teenage girls, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday in an interview with ABC News.
"We’ve already sent in a team," Obama said, adding that the Nigerian government has "accepted our help." That team consists of a combination of military, law enforcement and "other agencies" who will try and identify where in fact these girls might be and to provide them help, the president said, calling it a "heartbreaking" and "outrageous" situation.
Earlier on Tuesday Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. government had been in touch with the Nigerians since "day one."
"Our embassy has been engaged, and we have been engaged, but the government had its own set of strategies in the beginning," Kerry said"Our embassy has been engaged, and we have been engaged, but the government had its own set of strategies in the beginning," Kerry said, hinting that the U.S. wasn't able to do much — until now. "I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort," he added.
The effort to find the girls "will begin immediately," Kerry said. "We're going to do everything in our power to be helpful."
The news of the U.S. team comes as a hashtag associated with the missing girls surpassed 1 million mentions on Twitter, a notable milestone three weeks after the girls were reportedly kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamic militants from their school in the northern Nigerian city of Chibok.
The militant group, whose name means "western education is sinful," has claimed credit for the kidnappings and said they would sell the girls as sex slaves for $12 each.