Nigeria's defense chief says the military has located nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists but cannot use force to free them.

Air Marshal Alex Barde told demonstrators supporting the country's much criticized military on Monday 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."

A woman attends a demonstration in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday, May 5, 2014, urging the government to increase efforts to rescue the hundreds of abducted female students from a government secondary school. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

He would not say where they have found the girls.

Nigeria's military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls taken from a remote northeastern school six weeks ago.

President Goodluck Jonathan was forced this month to accept international help. American planes have been searching for the girls and Britain, France, Israel and other countries have sent experts in surveillance and hostage negotiation.

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