A United States surveillance plane has spotted what appears to be a group of girls abducted from Chibok by Boko Haram in April.
The girls were spotted in July, raising the hope that their rescue is still possible, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, quoting U.S. officials.
The girls were abducted from their dormitory in Government Secondary School Chibok, Borno State in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.
Amid international outrage, the United States, Britain, France and Canada offered intelligence support and sent specialists to Nigeria.
The effort has yielded little, while global attention has gradually receded.
Over 50 of the girls have however escaped leaving more than 200 still in captivity.
United States officials said the aerial surveillance also showed that most of the girls are still held captive by the group and have not been married off or used as sex slaves as feared and threatened by the group.
The surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria spotted a group of 60 to 70 girls held in an open field early July, two U.S. defense officials were quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.
A set of roughly 40 girls were later seen in a different field.
The paper cited reports that referred to intermediaries who reached out to Boko Haram, as saying that the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, ordered his fighters to treat the girls as valued hostages and not sex slaves.
“He gave a directive that anybody found touching any of the girls should be killed immediately,” the report said.
The news came as another U.S. paper, USA Today, launched fresh attacks on President Goodluck Jonathan over his handling of the crisis.
In an editorial Tuesday, the newspaper accused Mr. Jonathan of showing no sufficient commitment to rescuing the girls.
“Jonathan, who was in Washington this week for a U.S.-Africa summit, says his government is making every effort to find the girls. But he offers no evidence, is dismissive of the foreign help and argues that divulging any details could compromise the mission,” the paper said.
The newspaper said the Nigerian government was not matching its words with actions in their rescue efforts.