Nigeria says it knows girls’ whereabouts, won’t use force to get them

WATCH: Nigeria’s highest-ranking military officer revealed Monday they have located the missing girls, but using force is somehow not an option

Nigerian officials know the whereabouts of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls but won’t reveal the location and say they won’t use force to rescue them from their militant captors, according to news reports.

Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshall Alex Badeh was quoted in the state-run <em>News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) saying it was “good news” for the girls’ parents, who were kidnapped by members of militant group Boko Haram, who attacked on their school in the northeastern town of Chibok on Apr. 14.

But Badeh suggested the using military force to rescue the girls would put their lives at risk.

“Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it is doing; we can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back,” he said at Defence Headquarters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

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READ MORE: Nigeria kidnapped girls shown in new Boko Haram video

Badeh didn’t not provide further details about the believed location of the girls.

“We cannot come and tell you the military secret. [J]ust leave us alone. [We] are working to get the girls back,” NAN reported Badeh saying.

A senior U.S. Defense official told NBC News the department could not confirm Badeh’s claims.

“If they do we don’t know where that [information] came from. We don’t have that,” NBC quoted the unnamed official saying. “We still don’t know where the girls are.”

The U.S. is one of several foreign governments, including Canada, that have pledged support to find the 276 girls who are still being held captive.

READ MORE: Outrage grows over kidnapped Nigerian girls

Badeh rebuffed widespread criticism of the military and government’s handling of the abductions, and of its spotty record in dealing with militants prior to that attack.

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But, his comments as another report emerged that Nigeria refused a deal in which some of the girls would be released in exchange for freeing Boko Haram militants.

BBC reported the deal was close, with the help of an intermediary who met with the insurgent group earlier this month, when Nigeria backed out for unknown reasons.

In the weeks before and since the attack on the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School, Boko Haram has been blamed for several other attacks and bombings that have left hundreds dead in the country’s northeast.

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