Nigerian govt slammed for 'inability' to protect citizens

A total of 16 villages were attacked last week by Boko Haram militants.

FILE: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Picture: CNN.

JOHANNESBURG - Amnesty International says the Nigerian government's failure to prevent the massacre of more than 2,000 people by Boko Haram has revealed its inability to protect civilians or launch any effective crackdown on the terror group.

A total of 16 villages were attacked last week by militants with Nigeria's military seemingly unable to prevent repeated onslaughts by the terror group which has been wreaking havoc in north eastern Nigeria since 2009.

Mostly women, children and young men came under attack by Boko Haram last week and were killed without the military intervening.

The massacre has been condemned as unacceptable by the South African government which says the African community must act in a coordinated manner.

Amnesty International's Deputy Director in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Noel Kututwa says, "What is surprising is the scale of the attack, we know that Boko Haram continues to operate and continues to kill but the fact that they can kill more than 2,000 people and we don't hear of any military action by the government is really shocking."

Earlier, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) told Eyewitness News Boko Haram cannot be allowed to continue its violent siege in Nigeria.

While South African soldiers aren't involved in the battle yet, government says it is ready to act if called upon.

Dirco's Clayson Monyela says Boko Haram's reign of terror is unacceptable and West African leaders must come up with a comprehensive plan to fight back.

"We can't sit by and just watch people being slaughtered in this manner. We are calling on the international community to rally behind Nigeria."

Monyela says South Africa has not yet been asked to intervene.

"Looking at the number of people that are being killed we believe there has to be something we can do."

It's understood the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is ready to deploy its troops to Africa if asked to do so by the African Union but it's uncertain if such a request will be made at the body's conference in two weeks.

At the same time, two suspected child suicide bombers blew themselves up in a market in northeast Nigeria Sunday, witnesses said, killing three people in the second apparent attack in two days using young girls strapped with explosives.

The blasts struck around mid-afternoon at an open market selling mobile handsets in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, which has frequently been attacked by the Sunni Muslim jihadist group Boko Haram.

A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum, said the bombers were about 10 years old.

"I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age ... you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso," the trader said.

Another witness who accompanied the ambulances taking casualties to hospital said three people, excluding the bombers, were killed and at least 26 people were wounded.

The town was hit by a suicide bomber in November when at least 48 people, mainly students, were killed during a school assembly. On Saturday, a bomb exploded at a police station in Potiskum.

Sunday's explosions came a day after a bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.