Nigeria military says knows where kidnapped girls are

A demonstrator holds a sign above his head while chanting for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York, May 22, 2014.  Picture: REUTERS

A demonstrator holds a sign above his head while chanting for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York, May 22, 2014. Picture: REUTERS

Nigeria's military knows where the more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram are but has ruled out using force to rescue them, the state news agency quoted Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh as saying on Monday.

Seven weeks since Boko Haram militants abducted more than 200 girls taking exams in a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok and little is known of there whereabouts or what exactly the military is doing to get them out.

"The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you," Marshal Badeh was 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."

Most officials think any raid to rescue them would be fraught with danger and probably not worth the risk that the girls would be killed by their captors - an Islamist group that has shown a degree of ruthlessness in killing civilians.

Since the girls were captured, at least 470 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram, which says it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria, in various locations, according to a Reuters count.

Britain's BBC reported on Monday that a deal was close to being agreed to rescue the girls in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners - a demand the group had made public - but that it was called off at the last minute.

Over the weekend, Senate President David Mark, the country's number three, ruled out doing a deal with 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. 

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