After seven weeks as prisoners of Boko Haram, taken from their school in northern Nigeria in the night by the Islamist militant group, there are now rumours that the government is negotiating the release of more than 200 schoolgirl hostages.
The Nigerian army is ruling out any military intervention to free the girls, who are being kept under armed guard.
“The good news for the girls is that we know where they are but we cannot tell you. We cannot come and tell you military secrets. Just leave us alone, we are working, we will get the girls back. Where they are held, can we go with force?” said the Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh to a crowd.
“No,” was the mass reply.
“If we go with force, what will happen?” again asked Badeh
“(They) will kill them,” chorused the crowd.
It appears a deal for the girls’ release, in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners, fell through at the last minute for reasons unknown.
While leading politicians have repeatedly said there will be no talks with terrorists, it appears the only feasible way of getting the girls back. That is the only thing that interests their families, who continue to hold a demonstration near their school.