UN condemns terrorists in Nigeria, calls for punishment, demands release of kidnapped girls

The U.N. Security Council is calling for the perpetrators of terrorist acts by Boko Haram in Nigeria to be held accountable for what may amount to crimes against humanity and is hinting at sanctions against the Islamist extremist group.

The statement Friday was the strongest by the U.N.'s most powerful body.

It expressed "profound outrage" at Boko Haram's abduction of 276 school girls on April 14 and eight girls on May 5, and demanded their immediate release. It also strongly condemned a May 5 attack that caused hundreds of deaths and injuries.

The council said terrorist attacks conducted by Boko Haram since 2009 "have caused large-scale and devastating loss of life and represent a threat to the stability and peace of west and central Africa."