Around 2,000 civilians have been slaughtered by the armed group Boko Haram in north east Nigeria, with thousands more being forced to flee.
The South African government spoke in its condemnation this weekend of "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."
It continued: "Deliberate attacks against innocent civilians are contraventions of well-established international human rights and humanitarian law and constitute a crime against humanity."
The appalling massacres by the violent jihadist group were also condemned by the EU and human rights groups, but have received scant media attention compared to the recent Paris killings.
"The Boko Haram insurgency was discussed at the recent EU-Nigeria Ministerial Dialogue. It will also be addressed during the next regional Security Conference to be held in Niamey on 20 January", observed European Union vice-president Federica Mogherini.
“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. If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds, or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.
“We are currently working to find out more details of what happened during the attack on Baga and the surrounding area. This attack reiterates 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,” said Daniel Eyre.
Boko Haram (which means 'western education forbidden') militants attacked Baga and surrounding towns on Saturday 3 January 2015.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has deliberately targeted civilians through raids and bomb attacks with attacks increasing in frequency and severity.
The effects on the civilian population have been devastating, with thousands killed and abducted and hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes.
Evidence gathered by human rights agencies indicates clearly that Boko Haram have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Boko Haram killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014, including at least 2,000 in the first half of 2014, in attacks occurring mainly in northeast, north-central and central Nigeria.
Since 2009 the group have abducted more than 500 men, women and children, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014.
Some 650,000 people are reported to have fled the conflict zone by August 2014, an increase of 200,000 since May. By the beginning of 2015, around 1.5 million had fled.