Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says his government will continue to do "everything possible" to bring home more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram last month.
In a recorded speech released Thursday, Jonathan noted it had been 45 days since the "horrifying abduction" took place. He expressed solidarity with the families of the abductees.
"Our dear country Nigeria, is facing a new challenge," he said. "A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today."
He pledged to wage a "total war against terrorism" and said he had instructed his security forces to use any lawful means necessary to end the "impunity" of terrorists on Nigerian soil.
The president commented in an address marking Democracy Day, a national holiday in the country. He said his government was open to dialogue with citizens who had backed al-Qaida or other similar groups, if they renounce terrorism.
Also Thursday, gunmen on motorbikes were reported to have killed at least 32 people in villages in the northeastern Nigerian Borno state.
On Monday, a top military official said the military knew where the schoolgirls were being held captive, but said it would be difficult to use force to rescue them.
Chief of Defense Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh told reporters in Abuja that a military operation could be dangerous for the girls. He said, "We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back."