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Thu, 08 May 2014 19:57:58 +0000
(ABUJA, Nigeria) -- The tone at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria Thursday was tempered by the 276 school girls being held hostage by an extremist group, as Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed the kidnappings would be the "beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria."
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in the capital city of Abuja, Jonathan began the day with a moment of silence for the girls, who were taken by armed militants on April 14 from a secondary school in Chibok.
Jonathan has come under intense scrutiny for not doing enough to find the girls weeks after they were taken and said earlier this week on Nigerian television that he has no idea where the girls are.
Militant group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and has threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
Jonathan thanked the group of politicians, economists and other leaders for attending the conference, despite security threats, and then moved on to a speech about economic growth in Africa.
While Jonathan's remarks were brief, other speakers also took the opportunity to underscore the importance of finding the girls and empowering women in Africa.
"An attack on schoolgirls is an attack on every one of us," Amadou Mahtar Ba, chief executive of the African Media Initiative, said.
Speaking on a panel about securing the future of Africa, Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank Group, said he was appalled by the abduction of the girls.
"Terrorism can not win. This is also an attack on the rights of girls to education and that is a very serious matter," Kaberuka said.
While there was plenty of vocalized support to find the missing girls, it was unclear what, if any, action could be taken from the gathering.
The World Economic Forum concludes on Friday.
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