Islamic militants have kidnapped eight more young girls in northeast Nigeria, local police and villagers told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday, as U.S. officials said they were ready to help the Nigerian government find and rescue almost 300 young women already held by the group.
CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan said American officials admitted that many of the girls kidnapped three weeks ago have likely already been sold or smuggled out of the country.
In a video message released Monday, the leader of Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said the schoolgirls are now slaves, reports CBS News' Margaret Brennan.
"By god, we'll sell them in the market," he vowed, adding that "girls should be married out at the age of nine or twelve."
Shekau's video was the first public claim of responsibility for the April 15 kidnapping that has become a national embarrassment.
Brennan said that while the U.S. has offered assistance, none has been provided to date because Nigeria hasn't requested it.
Meanwhile, residents and police in Warabe, a village near one of the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri, told Reuters on Tuesday that militants had raided their village overnight, making off with eight more girls aged 12-15.
"They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army color. They started shooting in our village," resident Lazarus Musa told Reuters by telephone.
Police told the news agency that the attackers escaped with the girls and food and other essentials looted from the village.
"Many people tried to run behind the mountain but when they heard gun shots, they came back," Musa said. "The Boko Haram men were entering houses, ordering people out of their houses."
Nigerian parents now fear sending their children to school.
On Monday, the White House spokesman called it a tragedy and pledged to help.
"We are working with the Nigerian government to strengthen its criminal justice system and increase confidence in the government by supporting its efforts to hold those responsible for violence accountable," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
The name Boko Haram translates to "western education is forbidden." Earlier this year, the group slaughtered 50 teenage boys at school. Some were burned alive. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government, and just last month they succeeded in bombing the capital.
The U.S. has designated Boko Haram a terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda.
"They're not looking to rule," said Bronwyn Bruton, specialist in African extremism at the Atlantic Council. "They're looking to terrify, and they're looking to prey on people, and they're looking to make money through brutalizing the population and through various criminal activities."
Bruton said there are reports that many of the girls have already been sold as slaves in neighboring countries, some for as little as $12.