BAUCHI, Nigeria — The international effort to rescue the 276 schoolgirls being held captive by Islamic extremists in northeastern Nigeria is getting a further boost with the expected arrival this week of US hostage negotiators and other security specialists from Britain, France, China, and Spain.
Britain, Nigeria’s former colonial ruler, has said it hopes the international response will halt the five-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed thousands of Muslims and Christians and has driven some 750,000 people from their homes.
But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cautioned Sunday that it is ‘‘going to be very difficult’’ to find the missing girls. In an interview with ABC’s ‘‘This Week,’’ he said ‘‘ It’s a vast country. . . . But we’re going to bring to bear every asset we can possibly use to help the Nigerian government.’’
The Pentagon previously sent a team to Lagos to assess what the Nigerian military needs that the United States could provide in the search.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he spoke with President Jonathan Goodluck of Nigeria and told him: ‘‘We are ready to assist in locating the girls and fighting the brutal terrorism inflicted on you.’’
It did not elaborate on what kind of assistance Israel is offering. Israel has security relations with Nigeria as well as other African nations, including Kenya, which Israel helped with security advisers in the Nairobi mall attack last September.
Security expert Darlington Abdullah, a former commodore with the Nigerian air force, warned that militants may have laid land mines to discourage any pursuit.
At the United Nations, the Security Council last week called for Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that captured the girls, to be held accountable for what may amount to crimes against humanity. In a statement approved by all 15 members, the Security Council expressed ‘‘profound outrage’’ at the abduction.