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(WNN/VOA) Washington D.C., U.S., AMERICAS: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has met with parents of some of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in April.
More than 150 people took part in Tuesday’s meeting at the president’s office in Abuja, including some of the girls who managed to escape after they were kidnapped by the Islamist militants.
Afterwards, a presidential spokesman said the meeting was “frank” and that participants “spoke their minds” to Jonathan.
He also said the president repeated his promise to find the girls.
The meeting follows another suspected Boko Haram attack that is believed to have killed scores of people in the northeastern town of Damboa.
Nigerian media reports said Boko Haram hoisted its flag over Damboa during the Friday attack.
However, a Nigerian military spokesman, Major General Chris Olukolade, denies that the militants captured all or parts of the town.
“The Nigerian military will not concede any portion of this country to terrorists or any such group. We are farming out our deployments in the entire general area,” he said. “Our patrols are also active and extending all their activities to reverse every form of insecurity that is noted around there.”
On Monday, authorities said the Damboa attack prompted more than 15,000 people to flee from the region.
The president was originally scheduled to meet with the schoolgirls’ parents and members of the Chibok community, where the kidnapping occurred, last week. But the government said the parents cancelled at the last minute.
Parents and community leaders have expressed frustration over what they view as the government’s slow pace in providing information about the missing girls and efforts to win their release.
However, Presidential spokesman Ruben Abati says the government has been forthcoming with information.
“The government has since set up a national information center, which provides information on a daily basis,” he said. “And then, you also have the directorate of defense information which keeps everybody up to date on a daily basis.”
He also said security agencies have credible information about where the militants are keeping the girls, but he declined to disclose specifics.
A Chibok community leader, Pogu Bitrus, said at least seven parents of kidnapped schoolgirls had died since they were abducted.
Boko Haram has been battling the government for the past five years. The group is blamed for thousands of deaths, including more than 2,000 this year. The group has said it wants to establish a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
On Wednesday, the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, which has been rallying for the schoolgirls’ release will hold events across Nigeria to mark their 100th day in captivity.