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‘We’ve located kidnapped schoolgirls’

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The Abuja wing of the "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group march to the presidential villa to deliver a protest letter to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

The Abuja wing of the "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group march to the presidential villa to deliver a protest letter to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

The Abuja wing of the "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group march to the presidential villa to deliver a protest letter to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok who were kidnapped by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

NIGERIA'S military has located nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed.

The country’s chief of defence, Air Marshal Alex Badeh told demonstrators supporting the much criticised military that Nigerian troops can save the girls.

But he warned: “We can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”

He spoke to thousands of demonstrators who marched to defence ministry headquarters in Abuja, the capital.

Many were brought in on buses, indicating it was an organised event.

Asked by reporters where they had found the girls, he refused to elaborate any further.

He told the crowd: “We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?”

People roared back, “No!”

“If we go with force what will happen?” he asked.

 

“They will die,” the demonstrators responded.

That appeared to leave negotiation the sole option, but a human rights activist close to negotiators said a deal to swap the girls for detained Boko Haram members was agreed last week and then ditched at the last minute by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The activist who is close to those mediating between Boko Haram extremists and government officials said the girls would have been freed last week.

Mr Jonathan had already told British officials that he would not consider an exchange.

Nigeria’s military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls seized by Boko Haram militants from a remote north-eastern school six weeks ago.

President Jonathan was forced this month to accept international help. American planes have been searching for the girls and Britain, France, Israel and other countries have sent experts in surveillance and hostage negotiation.

A US defence department spokesman said they cannot confirm the reports about the Nigerian girls at this point.

Mr Jonathan’s reluctance to accept offered help for weeks is seen as unwillingness to have outsiders looking in on what is considered a very corrupt force.

 

Soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are not properly paid, are dumped in dangerous bush with no supplies and that the Boko Haram extremists holding the girls are better equipped than they are.

Some soldiers have said officers enriching themselves from the defence budget have no interest in halting the five-year-old uprising that has killed thousands.

hnews@herald.ie


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