Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapping: We know where the girls are – but we can't get them back by force, says Army chief
Hopes of rescuing more than 200 girls snatched from a school in Nigeria were given fresh impetus late on Monday night after the country’s military reportedly revealed it knew the location of the pupils but would not resort to force in order to free them.
The country’s Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh told the state news agency: “The good news for the parents is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you.” He added: “We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”
Gunmen from the Islamist group Boko Haram stormed a school outside the remote north-eastern town of Chibok on 14 April, carting away some 270 girls in trucks. More than 50 have since escaped but at least 200 remain in captivity.
Two days after the kidnapping, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, condemned a “cowardly act” and offered to “help the Nigerian government ensure that these children can be returned”. Britain has since sent a team of advisers, including specialists in counter-terrorism and hostage negotiation. But progress has been slow and the Nigerian government has encountered global criticism for its lack of transparency and updates.
Over the weekend a deal was close to being agreed to rescue the girls in exchange for the release of Boko Haram prisoners but it was called off at the last minute.
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