Air Marshal Alex Badeh told supporters Monday that he had "good news" for the parents of the missing girls, and that the military knew where the girls were, but couldn't reveal the location.
"We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?" Badah asked at a public event, as quoted by the AP.
Badah added that the Nigerian military would not use brute force and "go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back."
The Nigerian government had been criticized over its perceived inability to find and rescue the girls, who were abducted in mid-April. The criticism grew so loud that the United States, Britain, France and other countries sent assistance to help find the girls. U.S. military personnel have been flying both manned and unmanned surveillance flights over the area where the girls were believed to be held by the Islamist extremist group, and it was not immediately clear whether those efforts contributed to Monday's announcement.
A Pentagon spokesman told the AP on background that the Defense Department could not immediately confirm the report that the girls had been located.
It's fair to wonder whether the Nigerian military has actually found the girls. Shortly after they were first abducted, the military claimed that all but a few of the girls had been returned. It was later forced to retract that statement.