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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Residents urge more U.S. aid for Nigerian girls

— Some area residents are urging the United States to become more involved in the effort to rescue more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group.

Kunle Fashola, who was born in the United States and raised in Nigeria, said the Nigerian government was caught off guard by the kidnapping and isn’t prepared to deal with a well-organized terrorist group.

“I don’t think they are well equipped to handle this situation,’ said Fashola, 30, of New Tampa. “We need the United States government to intervene.”

Fashola was one of a small number of people who held a rally along Curtis Hixon Park on Tuesday, waving homemade signs with the popular Twitter hashtag #bringbackourgirls.

Olisa Echeazu, 28, of Tampa said he joined the rally because he has been frustrated by the lack of progress in getting the girls home safely.

“I believe the (Nigerian) government should have done something,” Echeazu said. “I feel it has taken too long.”

This week the international community stepped up pressure on the Nigerian government and some countries have announced assistance to help bring back the girls home safely. The United States announced on Tuesday that it would send technical experts from the U.S. military and law enforcement personnel.

The local protesters said the Nigerians need help.

And while some people might say the kidnapping isn’t a U.S. problem, the terrorists are attacking students who are getting a Western education, which is an attack on this country’s values, said Nigerian-born Charles Simeon.

“It’s deeper than kidnapping those kids,” Simeon said. “They (the United States) need to get involved and get the local (Nigerian) government and African union involved.”

Harrison Stubblefield, 25, of Tampa shared that view.

“Terrorist groups try to get to America through different ways,” he said. “They did it to make a statement to America.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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