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Nigerian girls found but cannot be rescued yet

Miami Times staff report | 5/29/2014, 9 a.m.
The 276 Nigerian girls who were abducted over a month ago during a violent raid have been found, according to ...

The 276 Nigerian girls who were abducted over a month ago during a violent raid have been found, according to the Nigerian military officials. The claims, though unconfirmed, have brought some measure of comfort and relief to local Nigerian and South Florida residents who have joined worldwide protests demanding their safe return.

This announcement came as Nigeria’s commander, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, asserted for the first time that the Nigerian government had publicly claimed to know the whereabouts of the missing girls who were kidnapped April 14 from the remote northeast village of Chibok as they were taking school exams. The kidnapping, believed to have been committed by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, has provoked global outrage and criticism of the Nigerian military for having failed to find and rescue them.

The kidnapping has sparked outrage in this community, where several organizations held rallies in Miami Gardens, Liberty City and Downtown Miami. South Florida is home to some 5000 Nigerians, many of whom are affluent working professionals who live active, but quiet lives in Miami Gardens.

In remarks carried by the National News Agency of Nigeria, Badeh, the chief of defense staff, also said the military would not undertake any rescue attempt that would endanger the lives of the girls. Their captors have publicly threatened to sell them into slavery or forced marriage.

Badeh spoke to what news agencies described as a supportive crowd of Nigerians in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, as part of what appeared to be an orchestrated campaign by the military to rebut the criticism over its handling of the kidnapping.

“We want our girls back,” Badeh was quoted as saying. “I can tell you that our military can and will do it, but where they are held, can we go there with force? Nobody should say the 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 was further quoted as saying: “The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you. We cannot come and tell you the military’s secret. Just leave us alone, we are working to get the girls back.”

In a further retort to critics, Air Chief Marshal Badeh said, “Anybody castigating the military, definitely there is something wrong with him.”

He did not go into any detail in his quoted remarks about whether the girls remained in one group or had been split up.

At least four countries, including the United States, have joined in the hunt for the girls by providing assistance to the Nigerian military.

This reported was supplemented with reports from The New York Times.

which has been described privately by Western intelligence agents and diplomats as bumbling and ineffective in the fight against Boko Haram, a ruthless insurgent group with ties to Al Qaeda that has repeatedly struck with impunity in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

In the weeks since the girls were seized, dozens of Nigerians in the group’s northeast regional stronghold have been killed by Boko Haram militants.

There was no corroboration of Badeh’s assertion about the girls’ location from American officials, who have sent drones to survey the Sambisa Forest in northeast Nigeria, a 37,000-square-mile area where the girls are thought to be held captive.

This report was supplemented with reports from The New York Times.