ABUJA, Nigeria, May 26 (UPI) -- Air Marshal Alex Badeh, Nigeria's chief of defense staff, said Monday that the military had located the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram last month, but ruled out using force to rescue them.
"We want our girls back. I can tell you that our military can and will do it, but where they are held, can we go there with force?" Badeh said, according to the state-backed News Agency of Nigeria.
"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 added.
Badeh would not say where the girls had been found.
"The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you," he said. "We cannot come and tell you the military secret, just leave us alone, we are working to get the girls back."
An estimated 276 students were taken from their all-girls boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram eventually claimed responsibility for the mass abduction and promised to "sell them in the market."
Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin" in the Hausa language.
The kidnappings prompted an international social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, in an attempt to pressure Nigerian officials to ramp up efforts to rescue the missing girls.
Last week, the U.S. deployed 80 troops to Chad to help the Nigerian government with search efforts.
"These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area," President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to ouse Speaker John Boehner and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy. "The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required."