Nigeria's leader blames "extremist foreign elements" for the Islamic uprising that has ballooned out of a homegrown religious sect and says his government will "do everything possible" to bring home safely nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by the extremists.

He also offered amnesty to those who renounce violence.

President Goodluck Jonathan spoke Monday to mark 15 years of democracy after decades of military dictatorship. The military has said it has located the girls but fears using force could get them killed. Jonathan has ruled out swapping detained insurgents for the girls.

The Nigerian leader said all democratic gains on the economic and social fronts are threatened by "international terrorism on our shores."

The World Bank says two-thirds of the 170 million people struggle in poverty in Africa's biggest oil producer.

[Associated Press]