More than 200 girls were abducted seven weeks ago by Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has often killed civilians

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ABUJA, Nigeria -- The Nigerian defense chief says military has located abducted girls but says they cannot go in with force.

Nearly 300 girls were abducted seven weeks ago by Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has often killed civilians.

But the country's chief of defense says an assault to free them could get them killed. He wouldn't say where they are.

Air Marshal Alex Barde told thousands of demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls but won't kill them "in the name of trying to get them back."

The supporters were brought in on buses, suggesting that it was an organized event.

The military and government have received scathing criticism at home and abroad for failing to rescue the girls, who were captured by Boko Haram.

The girls were seized from a remote northeastern school.

Soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are not properly paid, are dumped in dangerous bush with no supplies and that the extremists holding the girls are better equipped than they are.

American planes are part of the international coalition that has been searching for the girls.

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