ABUJA, Nigeria -- Nigerian families awaiting promised help from the West to free hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped weeks ago by terrorists are blaming their own government for the failing to stop an Islamic group that struck again, killing as many as 300 Nigerians.
"People from northeast live in a region full of anarchy -- we have been killed, our children raped and kidnapped but the government is doing nothing about it," said Samson Iyke, a resident of Borno, the remote northern region where the girls were kidnapped.
"It's politics from the look of things because the government seems not to care about the plight of people from northern Nigeria," he added. "We have been forgotten, left unprotected simply because we belong to another political party."
The Nigerians offered a $300,000 reward for information leading to the rescue of the girls, who were dragged from a school April 14 and taken to a remote forest base.
On Wednesday, NIgerian officials confirmed that Islamists killed as many as 300 people in the town of Gamboru Ngala, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon. ThisDay newspaper reported that the terrorists fired into crowds of people at a busy market Monday night.
Nigerian federal Senator Ahmed Zannah said the terrorists set homes on fire and gunned down residents who tried to escape from the flames, reported the paper. Zannah blamed members of Boko Haram, the terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 276 teenage girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery.
The latest attack is among scores of similar assaults, bombings and kidnappings that have been carried out by Boko Haram since its inception two years ago. Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of Christians and Muslims in an attempt to bring strict Islamic law to all of Nigeria, declared plans to sell the girls or have them married to its members.
On Tuesday, the United States offered law enforcement and military assistance to help the search for the missing girls kidnapped in a remote region in the north of the country. President Obama called the abductions "outrageous" and "heartbreaking."
"We've already sent in a team to Nigeria. They've accepted our help through a combination of military, law enforcement and other agencies who are going in, trying to identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help,'' Obama told ABC News.
The Nigerian government is defending the country's response to the kidnapping.
"The president and the government (are) not taking this as easy as people all over the world think," Doyin Okupe, a spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, told CNN.
"We've done a lot -- but we are not talking about it," Okupe said. "We're not Americans. We're not showing people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something." He said two special battalions have been devoted to the search for the missing girls.
Distraught parents of the stolen children have charged that officials stalled on action to free them and international condemnation has grown amid protests in major cities. Demands for action have increased on social media, especially through the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School are the latest victims in a long-running Islamist militancy straining relations between a north dominated by Muslims and a Christian-centric south. Boko Haram is especially opposed to educating girls. Its name translates as "Western education is forbidden."
Like all schools in Borno state, Chibok, an elite academy of both Muslim and Christian girls, had been closed because of increasingly deadly attacks by Boko Haram. It had reopened to allow final-year students to take exams.
In an hour-long video obtained by Agence France-Presse, a man identifying himself as Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the abductions and threatened to make the girls slaves.
"By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace," he says in the video, in which he refers to the captives as his slaves. The video showed militants firing rifles in the air and crying, "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great."
Boko Haram is responsible for a spate of bombings in the past year. It orchestrated a car bomb attack in Abuja on May 1, killing at least 19 people and injuring 60 more. In April, 70 people died in a bomb blast.
The terror group murdered 59 schoolboys in February. It separated the boys from the girls, instructing the girls to leave the school and get married. The boys were then killed. The movement could be responsible for more than 1,500 deaths this year, according to Amnesty International, a watchdog group.
Ahmed Zanna said the gunmen arrived in a convoy of vans in Gamboru Ngala during the town's busy market day. They stole food and motorbikes, burned hundreds of cars and buildings during their rampage, the politician told the BBC's Hausa service.
Nigerians have begged for international help but still largely blame their government.
"The government cannot sit back and watch how these little girls suffer. Their families are traumatized,'' said Nigerian Sen. Ali Ndume, who represents the region. "The government needs to do something extra, even if seeking external support, to ensure these girls are rescued."
"People from northern Nigeria feel like they are being punished because of their political stand," he added. "This is probably because the government is doing little to ensure these small children are released."
Edmond Keller, a UCLA political science professor specializing in Africa, said the episode is part of continuing low-intensity conflicts in the northeastern part of Nigeria, and Nigerians have regarded terrorist violence as commonplace.
"It took something as dramatic as the kidnapping of these young women to really get people's attention,'' Keller said. "Nigerians themselves have been loudly complaining about the government not doing much, but they hadn't protested in the streets up until recently.''
He did not see racism as a factor in the slow international reaction to the kidnappings, but he said that in general, the West is more concerned about human rights in Ukraine, Syria and other world hot spots than in Africa.
"There's a certain amount of racism involved in the tendency to look upon African conflicts as being normal and being a part of the way Africans behave, as opposed to something whites need to be concerned with,'' he said.
Talk of racism being at fault for the lack of attention to Boko Haram's excesses "is widely overstated," compared to Nigerian rulers' own negligence of the marginalized northern part of the country where Boko Haram is based, said John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.
Such comments ignore "the enormous amount of political and diplomatic energy and financial resources" the U.S. has spent in Africa over the last several decades and now to help resolve conflicts on the continents, said Johnnie Carson, a senior adviser to the United States Institute of Peace and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
The West has been among the only nations in the world that have come to the aid of Africans militarily, as the French did recently in Mali. The United States is bankrolling peacekeeper troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where hundreds of thousands of people have died in a decades-long civil war. And the U.S. is pressuring the African Union to intervene in South Sudan to stop killings in a civil war there.
In New York, London and major Nigerian cities such as Lagos, the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna, protesters in the streets are pressuring the government.
"Bring back our girls — alive!" chanted demonstrators camped outside the Onikan Stadium in Lagos.
Nii Akuetteh, an independent Washington analyst who specializes in Africa, says the government in Nigeria is simply unable to rise to the threat posed by Boko Haram.
"The government can't do anything because of the capabilities of the security services. It's not what is required of it," he said. "For five years, the security services have (not been coping well) with Boko Haram.
"The city (of Abuja) is expecting to host an international conference, and still two bombs have been detonated," he said. "It fits the pattern that they are simply unable to cope."
Africa specialist Ayo Johnson attributes Boko Haram's ability to continually attack and intimidate to its omnipresence in the country.
"Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan summed it best when in 2012 he said, 'Boko Haram has infiltrated the government.It has infiltrated the police, the security forces and even the Cabinet,' " Johnson said. "And I think that summed it up, that Boko Haram was an enemy from within ... that was going nowhere and was bent on causing problems for the Nigerian government."
On Tuesday, kidnappers took eight more girls from another village in the region. International media reported that the attack Sunday involved girls ages 12 to 15 in Warabe.
"They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army color," resident Lazarus Musa told Sky News. "They started shooting in our village."
Contributing: John Bacon in McLean, Va.; William M. Welch in Los Angeles