ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigerian police said Monday they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescue more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants.

The protests have "degenerated" and are "now posing a serious security threat," Abuja police commissioner Joseph Mbu said in a statement.

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)

The kidnapping crisis, now in its seventh week, has highlighted Nigeria's failure to curb Boko Haram's uprising.

First lady Patience Jonathan last month called a meeting to investigate the Chibok kidnappings. She said the abductions were engineered to hurt her husband and his government.

Jonathan has never referred to dozens of other girls abducted in the past year. He accepted international help in the search for the Chibok girls only after a wave of domestic and international outrage. The extremists abducted more than 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls School on April 15, police say. Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus says 57 girls escaped, leaving an estimated 272 still captive.

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