UK & World News

  • 27 May 2014, 8:59

Nigerian Army 'Knows Where Missing Girls Are'

Nigeria's Chief of Defence has said the military knows where more than 200 abducted schoolgirls are, but has ruled out using force to rescue them.

Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh refused to name the location where they were being held.

He said: "The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you.

"But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back."

The girls were abducted from their secondary school in Nigeria's northern Borno state by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram last month.

Intelligence experts and military personnel from the UK, US and France have joined Nigeria and its regional neighbours in a cross-border search.

However, with the exception of a video released by Boko Haram showing the detained girls, little information regarding their whereabouts has been made public.

In the video, the group's leader threatened to sell most of the schoolgirls into slavery if the government does not release detained Boko Haram fighters. 

There have been reports that the government was close to a prisoner swap deal to secure their release which has since fallen through.

Last weekend Senate President David Mark, the country's number three, rejected the prospect of making concessions to Boko Haram. 

"This government cannot negotiate with criminals and ... will not exchange people for criminals. A criminal will be treated like a criminal," he was quoted by local media as saying.

In the six weeks since the girls' abduction, suspected Boko Haram attacks have left an estimated 470 Nigerian civilians dead.

Earlier on Monday four soldiers were shot dead in the central Plateau state, where Boko Haram militants have made significant inroads.

Twin blasts in the state's administrative capital Jos last Tuesday left 118 people dead.

It is not clear whether Boko Haram carried out the attack.

Thousands of people have died during Boko Haram's five-year campaign to carve out an independent Islamic state.

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