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Obama: 80 US troops in Chad helping search for abducted Nigerian girls

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., listens to reporters' question during a news conference with Deborah Peter, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Peter, is a sole survivor of a Dec. 11, 2011, Boko Haram attack on her household in Nigeria, where her father and brother were killed for not renouncing their Christian faith. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., listens to reporters' question during a news conference with Deborah Peter, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Peter, is a sole survivor of a Dec. 11, 2011, Boko Haram attack on her household in Nigeria, where her father and brother were killed for not renouncing their Christian faith. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON - The United States has deployed 80 military personnel to Chad to help locate the nearly 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria last month, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

Obama, in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and the Senate, notified lawmakers about the latest steps underway to assist in the return of the abducted girls.

Obama said the service members will help with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria. He says the force will stay in Chad until its support is no longer necessary.

Chad shares a portion of its western border with northeastern Nigeria.

The girls and young women, all from a school in northern Nigeria, were kidnapped last month by an Islamic extremist group known as Boko Haram. Dozens escaped, but the group's leader has threatened on video to sell most of the remaining 276 schoolgirls into slavery if the government does not release detained militants.

The government of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan came under intense criticism for its initial response to the kidnappings. Since then, the international community has pledged its assistance.

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