Nigeria’s presidency said on Monday it plans to negotiate for the release of 110 girls abducted from a school in the northeastern town of Dapchi last month, rather than use a military option to free them by force.
Nigeria is grappling with an insurgency by jihadist group Boko Haram which has killed at least 20,000 people since 2009.
Members of the group are suspected of kidnapping the girls on Feb. 19, in the state of Yobe.
President Muhammadu Buhari discussed the approach during a meeting behind closed doors with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the capital Abuja, the presidency said. Tillerson was in Nigeria for the last stop in a week-long tour of five African countries.
“President Buhari added that Nigeria was working in concert with international organizations and negotiators, to ensure that the girls were released unharmed by their captors,” said the presidency in a statement by Buhari’s spokesman.
The kidnapping is one of the largest since Boko Haram abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014. Around 100 of the Chibok girls are still being held, though some have been freed after what security sources say were ransom payments.