WASHINGTON — Nigerian soldiers charged with countering the "exceptionally brutal" Boko Haram insurgency are outgunned and fearful, and the Pentagon has been reluctant to share intelligence with the Nigerian military because of its own record of brutality, a senior Pentagon official told the Washington Post on Thursday.
The Obama administration has asked for assurances from Nigeria that information shared in the widening search for more than 250 abducted schoolgirls will not be misused, said Alice Friend, the Pentagon's senior policy official for Africa.
She accused the military of "atrocities" in its campaign against the insurgency and said the Pentagon has difficulty finding "clean" units to which it can offer badly needed help and training. U.S. law bars Pentagon aid to units suspected of human rights abuses.
The search for the girls has become "one of the highest priorities" for Washington, State Department Africa policy specialist Robert Jackson told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Boko Haram "has no regard for human life," Jackson said.
But he and other government officials were clear that until now one of the main obstacles to countering Boko Haram and finding the missing girls has been the Nigerian government itself.