Nigerian Air Marshal Alex Badeh cautioned Monday (May 26) that using military force might further endanger the teenagers, Reuters said, while Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has refused Boko Haram's offer to free the girls in exchange for Nigeria's release of imprisoned Boko Haram terrorists numbering about 4,000.
Since Boko Haram kidnapped about 275 girls April 14, the terrorists have taken another 10 or so Christian girls and killed at least 470 civilians including Christians, Reuters reported.
"The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you," Reuters, the Associated Press and other news outlets quoted Badeh. "But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back."
About 223 Christian girls are believed still held captive, many of them reportedly featured in a video Boko Haram released of about 130 girls dressed in hijabs and chanting scriptures from the Quran. The girls are feared to have been sold into slavery as the wives of Muslim men, perhaps in Nigeria and bordering Cameroon and Chad. About 53 of the girls somehow managed to escape their captors days after the attack, according to news reports.
President Obama deployed 80 U.S. troops to Chad Wednesday (May 21) to aid in the search by maintaining aircraft and analyzing data, but the troops are not armed, according to the Pentagon. Britain, Israel, China and France are also aiding in the search.
Since the kidnapping, Boko Haram has raided villages almost daily. Bombings in northern and central Nigeria have killed hundreds, including attacks in the capital city Abuja and Jos.
In the latest attacks, Boko Haram killed at least 28 people and burned homes May 22 in three northern Nigeria villages, Reuters reported. Days earlier, Boko Haram killed more than 100 when it set off bombs near shops owned by Christians in the central market district of Jos, Morning Star News reported, quoting a Christian shop owner who barely evaded the blasts.
"I had left my shop and went out and was just returning when the bombs exploded," Morning Star quoted a woman who requested anonymity. "I put through a phone call to some of my colleagues, and they confirmed that three Christian brethren, a man named Dauda, and two other Christian women, have died from the blast."
Jonathan has been slow and ineffective in stopping Boko Haram, the international community has complained, and a partial state of emergency Jonathan declared last year in northern Nigerian states has not deterred the terrorists.
Boko Haram, which Jonathan has described as the Al-Qaeda of West Africa, began killing Christians and Muslims around 2002, but has killed thousands of Christians in intensified attacks since 2009 in an effort to establish sharia law.
Compiled by Diana Chandler, general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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