KANO, Nigeria — Nigeria's military has located more than 270 girls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram, the country's defense chief, Alex Badeh, said Monday.
"The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you," he said.
Badeh ruled out a forceful military operation to free the girls, amid reports of secret negotiations to secure their release.
"We can't go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back," he said after demonstrators marched to military headquarters in Abuja, the capital, a few days after trying to march to President Goodluck Jonathan's office. He met demonstrators and spoke to journalists.
Badeh offered no information as to how the military planned to recover the girls, other than to rule out force.
Jonathan and ministers have publicly ruled out negotiations with the radical Islamist group, which would run counter to the country's antiterrorism law. Most analysts say a military operation to try to rescue the girls would probably end in mass casualties.
Nigeria's military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls seized from a remote northeastern school on April 15. U.S. officials this month pointedly derided the Nigerian military in comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, describing the forces as "afraid to even engage."