YOLA, Nigeria — Islamic extremists blew up a bridge, killed an unknown number of people, and abducted the wife and two children of a retired police officer in northeast Nigeria, residents said Saturday.
The Friday night attacks came amid mounting condemnation by Muslims of Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist network that abducted more than 300 girls nearly a month ago.
A team of French specialists arrived Saturday in Nigeria to help look for the girls, said an official in President Francois Hollande’s office in Paris. He said they are expert in collecting intelligence from technical and human sources and in image analysis.
British security specialists arrived Friday to join Nigerian and American forces, and Britain said its aim is not only to help in the crisis over the girls but to defeat the homegrown terrorist network.
International outrage at the prolonged failure of Nigeria’s military to rescue the girls was joined Saturday by Michelle Obama. In a radio address on the eve of Mother’s Day, she said she and President Obama are ‘‘outraged and heartbroken’’ over the April 15 mass abduction.
‘‘In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters,’’ Mrs. Obama said, referring to Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12. ‘‘We see their hopes, their dreams, and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.’’
In Boston, about 2,000 people rallied Saturday outside the State House to protest the failure of Nigeria’s government to rescue the girls. The ‘‘Bring Back Our Girls’’ rally was organized by the local Nigerian community.
In Nigeria, a parent of an abducted child, the Rev. Enoch Mark, described his despair and anger at the military for not yet finding his two abducted daughters. ‘‘For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place,’’ he said.
‘‘They camped them near Chibok (the town from which they were abducted), not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand.’’
A well-known Nigerian Islamic scholar warned that having foreign soldiers on Nigerian soil could escalate the conflict and draw foreign extremists to the West African nation. Ahmed Mahmud-Gumi, speaking in northern Kaduna city on Friday, said it ‘‘may trigger waves of terrorism never seen before.’’
‘‘Foreign terrorists are eager to engage foreign forces, making Nigeria just another battle ground’’ like Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.
The former Nigerian military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, urged the country’s Muslims to rise up against the extremists.
‘‘Islam enjoins you to live peacefully with fellow human beings. . . . Therefore, anybody who will come and smear our name, all Muslims should kick against that,” he said in a BBC interview.
From Doha, Qatar, the International Union for Muslim Scholars condemned ‘‘the terrible crimes offensive to Islam.’’
In the Saudi city of Jiddah, the 56-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries, said it is planning a meeting that will focus on groups like Boko Haram.