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Kerry: US will aid in hunt for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about U.S. policy in Africa at the Gullele Botanic Garden in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Saturday, May 3, 2014. America's top diplomat said the U.S. is ready to help increase its ties with Africa, but nations across the continent need to take stronger steps to ensure security and democracy for its people. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

Secretary of State John Kerry vowed the U.S. will help Nigerian officials in their hunt to find hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic militants last month.

“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime,” Kerry said Saturday, according to The Washington Post. “We will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice.”

“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime.”

- Secretary of State John Kerry

The mass kidnapping on April 14 and the massive explosion that killed 75 hours earlier in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have fueled fears that the Islamic uprising is spreading and the military is unable to stop it.

Kerry, during a visit to Ethiopia to address America’s policy and objectives in Africa, said the U.S. is working to aid Nigeria in its fight against “Boko Haram’s campaign of terror and violence,” the Post reported.

Meanwhile, police in Nigeria said Friday that the extremists kidnapped by gunpoint 276 schoolgirls, increasing the number by more than 30 from previous estimates. About 53 girls and young women have escaped, Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan said.

Kerry did not specify how the U.S. would help Nigeria in its hunt for the schoolgirls, the Washington Post reported, but a senior State Department official traveling with Kerry later told the paper that the secretary of State was referring to security, communications and intelligence help.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.