Nigeria’s military says it knows where more than 200 missing schoolgirls, abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram seven weeks ago, are located – but says it will not use force to rescue them.
Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh (above) said: “The good news with the girls is that we know where they are but we cannot tell you. Just leave us alone we are working. We’ll get the girls back.”
He was also quoted as saying: “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 location of the missing girls has been a mystery since their kidnapping from a school in Borno state in April.
Some Nigerian civilians have ventured into the Sambisa Forest, a Boko Haram stronghold, to search for the girls, but it has also been suggested that the girls could have been taken across borders.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, has released a video showing the schoolgirls.
There are fears that a military assault to free the kidnapped teenagers could result in their deaths. Boko Haram has killed hundreds of civilians since the kidnapping.
In Nigeria’s Plateau state on Monday four Nigerian gunmen were killed in an ambush on a military patrol.
Boko Haram has made inroads into Plateau state in the past month, setting off a bomb in the city of Jos last Tuesday that killed 118 people.
Bendel Nancwat, head of the local council that administers the village of Gida Bua, where the attack happened, said it was not known if the assailants were Boko Haram or just bandits.
A spokesman for the Special Task Force – made up of military and police personnel meant to keep the peace in Plateau state – confirmed the incident but declined to give details.