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Jonathan promises safe return of girls

Goodluck Jonathan says his government will ensure the safe return of abducted schoolgirls.

FILE: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Picture: AFP.

ABUJA - Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan says his government will ensure the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram islamists three weeks ago in Borno state.

The girls were kidnapped in the dead of night last month at a school in Abuja and it's believed more than 50 have escaped.

But there are fears the rest have been sold as brides in neighbouring villages. Despite searches by the army and the air force, the girls had not been found.

Jonathan said his government had sought help from other countries, including the United States, and dismissed rumours that his government was in negotiations with the terrorist group to release the girls.

The Nigerian president has come under severe pressure to curb the spiraling attacks from Boko Haram, who have continued to undermine the safety and stability of the African's biggest oil producer, especially ahead of the prestigious World Economic Forum, scheduled to take place in the country between 7 and 9 May.