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Nigeria defence chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh, center, speaks during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls on May 26, 2014, in the Nigerian capital, Abuja
Gbenga Olamikan—AP

The Nigerian military has located the schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist extremists but cannot free them by force, the country’s defense chief said Monday.

Air Marshal Alex Badeh told demonstrators that the government intends to rescue the girls but needs to proceed carefully. “We can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back,” he said, cautioning against the repercussions of acting too aggressively, too soon.

Badeh would not disclose the exact location where they believe the girls are being held.

In the past month, the country’s military has come under extreme criticism, both internationally and at home, for failing to find the nearly 300 girls who were abducted from a school six weeks ago by terrorist organization Boko Haram, whose leader recently boasted, “I will sell them in the market.”

President Goodluck Jonathan was forced to accept international help in the search this month after several weeks of making no publicized effort to find the children. He even lied to families and the international community by saying most of the girls had been returned.

International outrage grew as the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls spread on Twitter almost a full two weeks after the abduction. This month, Britain, France, Israel and several other countries have donated experts in surveillance and hostage negotiations to the search. American planes have been flying over the regions seeking out the girls.


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