Hunt for abducted Nigerian girls 'unlikely to have happy ending'

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Hunt for abducted Nigerian girls 'unlikely to have happy ending'
FILE-In this Monday, May 19, 2014 file photo, Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica Mark cries as she displays her photo, in the family house, in Chibok, Nigeria. At least 11 parents of the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will never see their daughters again. Since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls by Islamic extremists three months ago, at least 11 of their parents have died and their hometown, Chibok, is under siege from the militants, residents report. Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists. At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus, who provided their names. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba File)
A woman with a sticker on her head bearing the slogan 'Bring back our girls' marches for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 29, 2014, during a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the girls' release, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Some of the escaped Kidnapped girls of the government secondary school Chibok, arrived for a meeting with Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Monday, June 2, 2014. Nigerian police say they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescues the more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants. Altine Daniel, a spokeswoman for Abuja police confirmed the ban in a text message, saying it was "because of security reasons". (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
Some of the escaped Kidnapped girls of the government secondary school Chibok, attend a meeting with Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Monday, June 2, 2014. Nigerian police say they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescues the more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants. Altine Daniel, a spokeswoman for Abuja police confirmed the ban in a text message, saying it was "because of security reasons". (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
Nigeria's chief of defense staff Air Marshal Alex S. Badeh, second from left, and other army chiefs arrive to address the Nigerians Against Terrorism group during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, May 26, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Monday to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Gbenga Olamikan)
People attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
A police officer stands guard as people attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Nigeria's chief of defense staff Air Marshal Alex S. Badeh, centre, speaks during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, May 26, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Monday to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Gbenga Olamikan)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Students from Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls protest outside the Nigerian consulate for more action to be taken to rescue the school girls kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram In Nigeria on May 28, 2014 in New York City. More than 300 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
In this photo taken on, Sunday, May 18, 2014, armed hunters gather before looking for around 300 abducted school girls in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Hundreds of hunters armed with homemade rifles, poisoned arrows and amulets say their spiritual powers can lead them to the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists. (AP Photo/Haruna Umar)
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken on, Sunday, May 18, 2014, armed hunters gather before looking for around 300 abducted school girls in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Hundreds of hunters armed with homemade rifles, poisoned arrows and amulets say their spiritual powers can lead them to the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists. (AP Photo/Haruna Umar)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande welcomes Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (L2) welcomes the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (M) and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R2) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: Tchad's President Idriss Deby is escorted by French president Francois Hollande as he leaves the African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. The African security summit is being held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L to R) Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan (R) speaks with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (C) prior a family photo during an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
(LtoR) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, France's president Francois Hollande, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. West African leaders met with French President Francois Hollande to bolster cooperation with Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram Islamists after the abduction of 200 schoolgirls shocked the world. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Cameroon's President Paul Biya (L) upon his arrival to an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows their leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)
Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, speaks to journalists during an interview in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Shettima says 54 abducted girls have been identified by parents in a Boko Haram video released Monday. A Nigerian government official said "all options are open" in efforts to rescue almost 300 abducted schoolgirls from their captors as US reconnaissance aircraft started flying over this West African country in a search effort. Boko Haram, the militant group that kidnapped the girls last month from a school in Borno state, had released a video Monday purporting to show some of the girls. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
People attend a rally calling on the Government to rescue the school girls kidnapped from the Chibok Government secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, Saturday May 10, 2014. The president of Nigeria for weeks refused international help to search for more than 300 girls abducted from a school by Islamic extremists, one in a series of missteps that have led to growing international outrage against the government. The waiting has left parents in agony, especially since they fear some of their daughters have been forced into marriage with their abductors for a nominal bride price of $12. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called the girls slaves in a video this week and vowed to sell them. "For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place," said Enoch Mark, the anguished father of two girls abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. "They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand. For a good 11 days." (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
A police officer stand guards during a demonstration calling on government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, during workers day celebration in Lagos, Nigeria. Thursday, May, 1. 2014, Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday. At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students' fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told The Associated Press. He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites. The message was sent to a member of a presidential committee mandated last year to mediate a ceasefire with the Islamic extremists, said the civic leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the talks. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)
Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman, centre, walks with representatives of kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok secondary school, for a meeting at the defense headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Their plight — and the failure of the Nigerian military to find them — has drawn international attention to an escalating Islamic extremist insurrection that has killed more than 1,500 so far this year. Boko Haram, the name means "Western education is sinful," has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls. The claim was made in a video seen Monday. The British and U.S. governments have expressed concern over the fate of the missing students, and protests have erupted in major Nigerian cities and in New York. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Protestors hold placards as they demonstrate outside Nigeria House in central London on May 9, 2014, to demand the return of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist group. Nigeria's military had advanced warning of the April 14 attack by Boko Haram that led to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls but failed to take immediate action, Amnesty International said. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE: This file image made available from Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2012, taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathizers shows the leader of the radical Islamist sect Imam Abubakar Shekau. The leader of an Islamic uprising in northeastern Nigeria boasts in a new video of a daring attack on military bases in a provincial capital and threatens to attack the United States next, it has been reported on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Few believe the Boko Haram terrorist network has such capability though there are fears its insurgency could spread to neighboring states. In his first statement since Washington designated Boko Haram a terrorist network last month, Abubakar Shekau swore at the United States, calling it a prostitute nation of infidels and liars. The United States in July posted a reward of $7 million for information leading to Shekau’s arrest. (AP Photo, File ) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the kidnapped school girls by the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram, during a press availability at the US State Department in Washington, DC, May 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Protesters calling for the release of a group of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls gather outside Nigeria House on May 9, 2014 in London, England. 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school on 14 April, 2014 in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Borno state in Nigeria. The abductions have sparked protests around the world calling for the release of the girls who are being held by the militant group Boko Haram. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Soldiers walk to block the advancing civil society groups protesting the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of civil society groups shout slogans to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Leader of Chibok community in Abuja Hosea Sambido (R) raises a newspaper reporting the death of two of the abducted Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman carries placard to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls during a rally by civil society in Lagos on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stand beside children holding as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, May 8, 2014. The kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko Haram's campaign of violence, and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday, May 8, 2014. The kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko Haram's campaign of violence, and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
FILE - In this file image made from video received by The Associated Press on Monday, May 5, 2014, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, speaks in a video in which his group claimed responsibility for the April 15 mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria. Even before the kidnapping, the U.S. government was offering up to a $7 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Shekau, whom the U.S. has labeled a specially designated global terrorist. (AP Photo/File)
Protestors crowd the gate of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, protesting the kidnapping of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls, abducted from a school in the remote northeast of Nigeria three weeks ago. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Women sit as they gather on May 8, 2014 during a meeting called by Congafen (the Coordination of the NGOs and Nigerien women associations) at the Youth house in Niamey, western Niger, to ask the United Nations (UN) to pursue in justice Boko Haram Islamists who are responsible for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. Nigeria's president said today that Boko Haram's mass abduction of the schoolgirls in Nigeria would mark a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers joined the search to rescue the hostages. A few days before Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility in a video, saying his extreme Islamist group was holding the schoolgirls as 'slaves' and threatening to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO / BOUREIMA HAMA (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 3, 2014 in Maine-Soroa, eastern Niger, shows Nigerian children standing near a tent at a camp for refugees who fled the fighting between the Nigerian army and the Islamist rebels of Boko Haram. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman, centre, walks with representatives of kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok secondary school, for a meeting at the defense headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Their plight — and the failure of the Nigerian military to find them — has drawn international attention to an escalating Islamic extremist insurrection that has killed more than 1,500 so far this year. Boko Haram, the name means "Western education is sinful," has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls. The claim was made in a video seen Monday. The British and U.S. governments have expressed concern over the fate of the missing students, and protests have erupted in major Nigerian cities and in New York. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
A police officer stand guards during a demonstration calling on government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, during workers day celebration in Lagos, Nigeria. Thursday, May, 1. 2014, Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday. At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students' fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told The Associated Press. He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites. The message was sent to a member of a presidential committee mandated last year to mediate a ceasefire with the Islamic extremists, said the civic leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the talks. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)
Women attend a rally calling on the Government to rescue the school girls kidnapped from the Chibok Government secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, Saturday May 10, 2014. The president of Nigeria for weeks refused international help to search for more than 300 girls abducted from a school by Islamic extremists, one in a series of missteps that have led to growing international outrage against the government. The waiting has left parents in agony, especially since they fear some of their daughters have been forced into marriage with their abductors for a nominal bride price of $12. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called the girls slaves in a video this week and vowed to sell them. "For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place," said Enoch Mark, the anguished father of two girls abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. "They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand. For a good 11 days." (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
FILE - In this Thursday, May 8, 2014 file photo, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. The president of Nigeria for weeks refused international help to search for more than 300 girls abducted from a school by Islamic extremists, one in a series of missteps that have led to growing international outrage against the government. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
Hosea Abana, centre, the chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, pauses, during a rally calling on the Government to rescue the school girls kidnapped from the Chibok Government secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, Saturday May 10, 2014. The president of Nigeria for weeks refused international help to search for more than 300 girls abducted from a school by Islamic extremists, one in a series of missteps that have led to growing international outrage against the government. The waiting has left parents in agony, especially since they fear some of their daughters have been forced into marriage with their abductors for a nominal bride price of $12. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called the girls slaves in a video this week and vowed to sell them. "For a good 11 days, our daughters were sitting in one place," said Enoch Mark, the anguished father of two girls abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. "They camped them near Chibok, not more than 30 kilometers, and no help in hand. For a good 11 days." (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Brigid Turner, a Jamaican national who lives in Brooklyn, holds a sign while chanting during a rally in front of the Nigerian consulate, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in New York. Dozens gathered to join the international effort to rescue the 276 schoolgirls being held captive by Islamic extremists in northeastern Nigeria. As the worldwide effort got underway the weakness of the Nigerian military was exposed in a report issued by Amnesty International. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga, front center left, holds a banner reading "#Bring Back Our Girls" in solidarity against the abduction three weeks ago of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, in capital Pristina on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Kosovo president Jahjaga was joined by Kosovo lawmakers and human rights activist in solidarity as the kidnapping has ignited a viral social media campaign that has brought renewed attention to Boko's Haram campaign of violence and protests around the world. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Vendors sell local newspapers, with headlines stating the military was alerted four hours before abduction of Government secondary school Chibok girls on a street in Abuja, Nigeria, Saturday, May 10, 2014. The weakness of the Nigerian armed forces was highlighted Friday in a report which said the military did not respond to warnings that Boko Haram rebels were about to attack Chibok, the town where the young women were abducted from their school. Nigerian security forces had four hours of notice about the April 15 attack by the rebels but did not react because of their fear of engaging the extremists, said Amnesty International, in a report citing multiple interviews with credible sources. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Nigerian student Caleb Udeoha poses with a placard in support of the campaign for the release of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, outside Westminster Cathedral in London , Saturday, May 10, 2014. Global outrage against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Islamist militant sect Boko Haram as a social media campaign drew worldwide support. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Pastor Michael Osifo speaks to his predominantly-Nigerian congregation at the Hope Fellowship Church of Christ in Sugar Land, Texas, a Houston suburb, during a discussion about the northern Nigeria kidnappings on Friday, May 9, 2014. The large Nigerian populations in Texas are seeking to help resolve a crisis in their native country in which nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a school by Islamic militants and more than 100 others were killed in a marketplace in Borno state. (AP Photo/Jill Craig)
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)
Some of the escaped Kidnapped girls of the government secondary school Chibok, attend a meeting with Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Monday, June 2, 2014. Nigerian police say they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescues the more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants. Altine Daniel, a spokeswoman for Abuja police confirmed the ban in a text message, saying it was "because of security reasons". (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
Pakistani schoolchildren listen to their teacher during a special class session in solidarity against the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, at Ranrra school in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Friday, May 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Some of the escaped Kidnapped girls of the government secondary school Chibok, arrived for a meeting with Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Monday, June 2, 2014. Nigerian police say they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescues the more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants. Altine Daniel, a spokeswoman for Abuja police confirmed the ban in a text message, saying it was "because of security reasons". (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
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By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Joe Brock

(Reuters) - Nigeria's hunt for more than 200 abducted schoolgirls is not all that it seems. In public, an international operation is gathering pace while behind the scenes, officials say it is unlikely to deliver the success that global opinion demands.

The United States and Britain are helping Nigerian forces in the effort to liberate the girls taken from their school in Borno state a month ago by Boko Haram Islamist militants.

The pressure for results is huge, with the likes of Michelle Obama and film star Angelina Jolie supporting a social media campaign operating under the Twitter tag #BringBackOurGirls.

Washington has sent surveillance aircraft as well as assigning medical, intelligence, counter-terrorism and communications advisers to the mission.

Nigeria's Missing Girls: Who's Searching and How

But officials have little idea where the girls are, and acknowledge that if they are found, any rescue attempt would be fraught with problems. On top of that, morale is shaky among some of the Nigerian troops involved in the hunt who already have experience of Boko Haram as a formidable foe.

"We commend the effort by the #BringBackOurGirls protesters but it doesn't fit with the reality of the security situation we are facing," said a senior Nigerian military source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Foreign experts are also pessimistic that the girls can be extricated from the rebels' clutches and returned to their homes in Nigeria's remote northeast where Boko Haram operates.

"I think a rescue is currently unlikely and unfeasible," said Jacob Zenn, a Boko Haram expert at U.S. counter-terrorism institution CTC Sentinel.

Until Monday, nothing had been seen of the girls since they were snatched from the village of Chibok near Nigeria's borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Then Boko Haram released a video showing more than 100 girls together in a rural location. In it, rebel leader Abubakar Shekau offered to exchange them for captured militants.

The video raised hopes that their location could be found using ground forces, state-of-the-art intelligence and surveillance planes.

Then an operation could be staged, perhaps with forces swooping from the sky like a British raid in Sierra Leone in 2000 to free soldiers held by militiamen, or Israeli commandoes' rescue of passengers from a jet hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976.

However, such a scenario is unlikely this time. One source with knowledge of the search said the footage was probably taken at least 10 days ago, if Boko Harma's past videos are any guide. By now, the girls could be somewhere else as a group, or dispersed to many places.

VIRTUALLY UNDETECTABLE

The Sambisa forest, Boko Haram's stronghold, is a first target but it is not conducive to aerial search because it covers 60,000 square km (23,000 square miles), more than twice the size of Rwanda. The rebels know this area intimately and could spread the girls among local families, making them virtually undetectable by conventional security forces.

Two U.S. national security sources said initially the girls were separated into around three large groups but were subsequently scattered in smaller groups. Other experts said they could be in mountains near Gwoza on the Cameroon border.

If this is the case, some girls might be found before others, posing a dilemma for would-be rescuers.

"In the past, Boko have threatened, and maybe actually gone ahead with, killing hostages upon sensing the merest hint of possible rescue operations," said a security source. Rescuing some girls could add to danger faced by others still captive.

Another problem is time. Britain's minister responsible for African affairs, Mark Simmonds, said on Wednesday that it was "early days" in the rescue operation, yet the abduction happened on April 14 so rebels have had ample time to prepare for an international response.

A senior U.S. Defense Department official criticized Nigeria on Thursday for being too slow to adapt to the threat of Boko Haram.

TIRED OF FIGHTING

An incident this week highlighted the problems of the Nigerian army, whose 1st and 7th divisions have been deployed to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, to confront the rebels.

On Tuesday, gunmen ambushed a unit returning to Maiduguri from Chibok, killing at least four soldiers. Rebels were also killed. The next day soldiers fired into the air at Maiduguri barracks to protest about what they said was poor leadership.

Defense headquarters quickly stated that the situation had been resolved, but soldiers told Reuters they remained angry.

"These Boko Haram have special forces. They know how to shoot and maintain their grounds more than us. What is making it worse is our superior officers who are insensitive to the plight of the troops," said a soldier, who declined to be identified.

"We are tired of this whole thing because we are being killed every day and we don't get the required support and care from our superiors," another soldier said.

President Goodluck Jonathan will visit Chibok on Friday, senior government officials said.

Even coordinating an international effort faces difficulties in Nigeria, which recently overtook South Africa as the continent's biggest economy. Nigeria has close ties with Western powers but has historically resisted foreign military involvement on its soil.

One possible sign of differing approaches is that Simmonds, rather than the president himself, announced that Jonathan had ruled out any prisoner exchange for the girls' release. Nigerian officials have since declined to comment.

Ultimately, the girls' best hope may lie in dialogue but the road to talks remains uncertain because the rebels do not form a unified group.

Boko Haram is faceless and even Shekau heads just one of several loosely coordinated groups with differing objectives, said a senior official with knowledge of the northeast.

A Nigerian presidential committee set up last year for talks with the rebels dealt last year with Boko Haram proxies. But they were later denounced by other Boko Haram militants as impostors, according to Minister of Special Duties Tanimu Turaki, who leads the committee.

One security source in Abuja cautioned against raising false hopes. "It is time we removed the thought of a very happy ending to this situation," the source said.

(Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja, Isaac Abrak in Maiduguri and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by David Stamp)

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