UK to deploy Tornado fighters to search kidnapped Nigerian girls
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is reportedly deploying three GR4 Tornado fighters to Nigeria, to assist the local government in the search of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in April.
Equipped with advanced surveillance equipment, the Tornado jets are scheduled to conduct reconnaissance missions over the region where the group is believed to be operating, as reported by The Times.
However, the mission is dependent on the UK securing permission from a nearby African country to use its runway.
An unnamed UK government source told the publication that the aircraft would help the Nigerian authorities by tracking the movements of Boko Haram militants.
Meanwhile, a UK Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The UK continues to work with the US, France, Nigeria, its neighbours and international partners to provide advice and assistance to the Nigerian Government.
"Together with our allies we have provided continuous surveillance support to the Nigerian authorities, including satellite imagery.
"We are still in discussion with partners on the deployment of further surveillance capability."
In May, Britain sent a Sentinel R1 airborne battlefield and ground surveillance aircraft to Nigeria to support the search-and-rescue of the girls, who were taken from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria.
The country has also offered an advisory team to embed in the Nigerian Army headquarters and a specialist team to provide analytical assistance to the Nigerian authorities involved in the operation.
In addition to the UK, the US has also offered help to try to find the missing girls, but is yet to achieve success in its mission.
Last week, Boko Haram militants kidnapped dozens of boys and men in a raid on the remote village of Doron Baga in north-east Nigeria, as reported by Reuters.
UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said in an emailed statement: "Officials at the British High Commission in Abuja are urgently looking into the details.
"The UK stands firmly with Nigeria as it faces the scourge of Boko Haram."
Image: More than 300 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. Photo: courtesy of Yaroh Dauda.