Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group behind the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls last month, killed hundreds of people in a violent attack in northeast Nigeria earlier this week.
Suspected members of Boko Haram raided a town near the Cameroon border Monday and, during a 12-hour rampage, lit houses on fire and shot at locals, killing as many as 300 people, according to reports confirmed by the Associated Press on Thursday. The group is also reported to have kidnapped another eight girls in the region.
Boko Haram has been waging a deadly fight to create a separate Islamic state since 2009. It has recently drawn renewed international attention after it kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school on April 14.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday pledged to find the girls, saying at the World Economic Forum being hosted in Abuja that their rescue would mark “the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria,” Reuters reports.
But the abductions have been particularly embarrassing for Jonathan as business leaders and officials converge on Abuja for the Forum. The girls are still missing more than three weeks after the mass kidnappings, and Boko Haram’s leader has said that he’ll sell the girls “on the market,” which could effectively turn them into sex slaves.
Jonathan, facing mounting domestic and international pressure to respond to the girls’ kidnapping, recently welcomed an offer from the U.S. to send a team to help with the search. Nigerian officials have also announced a $300,000 reward for information leading to the girls’ rescue.