UPDATE: Nigeria Won't Swap Girls

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Britain's top government official on Africa says Nigeria's president is ruling out the possibility of releasing jailed militants in exchange for more than 270 schoolgirls who are being held by an Islamic extremist group.

Mark Simmonds told journalists in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Wednesday that President Goodluck Jonathan had "made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners."

Simmonds met with Jonathan in Abuja on Wednesday. Nigerian officials couldn't immediately be reached for confirmation.
In a video released on Monday, Boko Haram's leader says he will free the girls only if the government releases jailed members of his group.

Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people this year in a campaign of bombings and massacres.

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- U.S. reconnaissance aircraft have been flying over Nigeria in the search for nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls.

The flights come a day after the Boko Haram (BOH'-koh hah-RAHM') militant group released video evidence that at least some of the girls are still alive and demanded that jailed fighters be swapped for their freedom.

Nigerian authorities have verified the footage as authentic, saying 54 of the girls have been identified by relatives, teachers and classmates who have seen the video.

A Nigerian government official says "all options" are open in the effort to free the girls.

Protesters marched through the streets of the capital, Abuja, today, demanding more government action to find and free the girls. They are believed to be held in the vast Sambisi forest some 20 miles from the eastern town of Chibok, where they were seized from their school a month ago.

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