Nigeria's military has located nearly 300 school girls abducted by Boko Haram militants but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed, the country's chief of defense said today. Air Marshal Alex Barde told demonstrators supporting the much-criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he added, "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 Defense Ministry headquarters in Abuja, the capital. Many were brought in on buses, indicating it was an organized event.
Asked by reporters where they had found the girls, Barde refused to elaborate. "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?" he asked the crowd. People roared back, "No!" "If we go with force what will happen?" he asked. "They will die," the demonstrators said. Barde said no one should criticize the military. "Nobody should come and say the Nigerian military does not know what it is doing. We know what we are doing," he insisted. But Nigeria has faced international outrage over its failure to rescue the girls, and had to accept outside help in trying to free them. (Read more Boko Haram stories.)