South Africa condemns Boko Haram attacks

13 January 2015

South Africa has joined the international community in condemning “in the strongest possible terms the inhumane and barbaric attacks by Boko Haram against at least 16 towns and villages in the north and north east of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) released a statement in the wake of last week’s massacres, in which 2 000 people were reportedly killed and thousands more fled into neighbouring countries.

“Deliberate attacks against innocent civilians are contraventions of well-established international human rights and humanitarian law and constitute a crime against humanity,” Dirco said.

“In this regard, the South African government reiterates its stance that terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned and South Africa stands firmly with the international community in condemning all forms of terrorism, and these acts in particular. South Africa will continue to support regional and international efforts to address the scourge of terrorism in all its forms.”

South Africa extended its condolences to the Nigeria, especially to the families of the deceased.

Boko Haram attacked the town of Baga and surrounding villages in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria last week in what Amnesty International has said is possibly the deadliest in the group’s history.

“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

“If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as 2 000 civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population.”

The attack reiterated “the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks”, he said.

UN secretary-general added his voice to the growing condemnation of the attack, saying the UN was “ready to assist the Nigerian government and all affected neighbouring states in bringing an end to the violence and to alleviate the suffering of civilians with all available means and resources”.

Other nations that have condemned the attack and spoken of their support for the people of Nigeria, are France, itself suffering terrorist attacks last week; Canada; and the United States.

“The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be held accountable. Together with its African and international partners, France stands resolutely alongside Nigeria in the fight against terrorism,” said France’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said: “This ongoing brutality against civilians is despicable. I am appalled by these reports of entire towns burnt to the ground and the violent slaughter of entire communities.

“Canada, in solidarity with the international community, will continue to support the people of Nigeria.”

Washington issued a statement condemning “the recent escalation of attacks on civilians carried out by Boko Haram, which shows no regard for human life. All those responsible for these recurring terrorist attacks must be held accountable”.

The US said it was committed to working with Nigeria and its neighbours to end the scourge of Boko Haram.

SAinfo reporter