A glimmer of hope was offered to the families of the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls Monday, though that hope was delivered in a strange way.
Attempts to rescue the girls, who were kidnapped by extremist group Boko Haram last month, have so far been ineffective. But the head of Nigeria's armed forces said Monday in a somewhat defensive comment that the military now knows where the girls are, but has ruled out the use of force to rescue them. (Via Sky News, Channels TV)
Nigeria's state-run news agency quotes the Chief of Defence Staff 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 secret, just leave us alone, we are working to get the girls back."
The official didn't elaborate on how the military is using that information or whether a rescue plan is in the works, but he did say the use of force might prompt Boko Haram to execute the girls.
Of course, the families have gotten their hopes up before. Just days after the girls were kidnapped, the Nigerian military claimed it had already rescued most of them. That, of course, turned out not to be true. (Via Al Jazeera)
And a BBC reporter says a deal was recently reached that would have traded the girls for more than 100 Boko Haram prisoners, but the government pulled out at the last minute.
Monday, Nigeria's Vanguard reported both president Goodluck Jonathan and Senate head David Mark said the government would not negotiate with the group. Jonathan demanded the girls be released "unconditionally."
A U.S. Pentagon spokesperson told CNN they were unable to confirm the Nigerian defense chief's comments.