, ABUJA, May 27 – Nigeria’s highest ranking military officer on Monday gave a glimmer of hope to the families of more than 200 schoolgirls held by Boko Haram militants, revealing they had located the missing teenagers.
But Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, warned that any potential armed rescue operation was fraught with danger as the 223 girls still held hostage could be caught in the crossfire.
Boko Haram fighters kidnapped 276 girls from the remote northeastern town of Chibok on April 14, leading to global outrage.
“The good news for the girls is that we know where they are but we cannot tell you,” Badeh told reporters in the capital Abuja, as the hostage crisis entered its seventh week.
Nigeria’s government and military have been sharply criticised for their slow response to the mass abduction and were finally forced to accept foreign help in the rescue effort. READ: African leaders to discuss kidnapped Nigerian girls.
US drones have been surveying northeast Nigeria and neighbouring Chad from the air while British, French and Israeli teams have been on the ground providing specialist assistance.
The military has previously said that the search was centred around the Sambisa forest area of Borno, in northeast Nigeria, where makeshift militant camps have previously been found as well as arms and ammunition caches.