ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met through the night with security, school and state officials and issued a new directive that "everything must be done" to free the 276 girls held captive by Islamic extremists, one of his advisers said Sunday after growing national outrage at the government's response.
Jonathan said in a televised "media chat" Sunday night that he believes Nigeria is winning its war against an Islamic uprising and that two bomb blasts in three weeks that have killed about 100 people and injured more than 200 in the capital, Abuja, "does not mean the situation is worsening."
"I believe we are succeeding," he said, though the death tolls tell a different story. More than 1,500 people have died in the insurgency this year, compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013. Both of the Abuja blasts are blamed on the Islamic extremist Boko Haram terrorist network.
Jonathan said he has been asking for and getting help from the United States but that President Barack Obama has expressed concern to him about allegations of gross human rights abuses by security forces accused of summary executions and the killings in detention of thousands of people.
"I said, 'Send someone to see what we are doing and assist us, give us equipment that will help us, because we need sophisticated (equipment), don't just say there is some matter of alleged abuses," Jonathan said, describing one of two conversations with the U.S. leader.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend promised help, saying from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, "The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice."
Jonathan's meeting over Saturday night was the first time the president had met with all stakeholders, including the principal of the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeastern Nigeria where the girls and young women were kidnapped in a pre-dawn raid April 15, presidential adviser Reuben Abati told reporters.