JOHANNESBURG: UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned recent attacks by Islamic militants that killed hundreds of people in Nigeria, which holds elections next month even though Boko Haram extremists hold large swaths of territory in the northeast of Africa's most populous country.

Ban's office said in a statement Sunday that the secretary-general was appalled by reports that hundreds of civilians were slaughtered in an assault around Baga town in Borno state, near Nigeria's border with Chad.

Some reports say the death toll is as high as 2,000.

An Amnesty International statement had said there are reports that the Baga town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.

Take a look: Nigeria massacre deadliest in history of Boko Haram: Amnesty

If true, “this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught,” Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International, had said.

In Washington, US State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki had also condemned the attacks.

Additionally, Ban's office cites reports that extremists used a 10-year-old girl as a suicide bomber Saturday to kill 19 people at a market in Maiduguri, also in Borno state.

Nigeria 'needs same support as France' after Boko Haram attacks

A Nigerian archbishop called Monday for the same international support to tackle Boko Haram as France has received since it was hit by terrorist attacks last week.

“I see the very positive response of the French government tackling this issue of religious violence after the killing of their citizens,” said the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jos in central Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama.

“We need that spirit to be spread around, not just when it happens in Europe, (but) when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, Cameroon and many poor countries, that we mobilise our international resources to confront the people who bring such sadness to many families,” he told BBC World Service radio.

Kaigama was speaking after another bloody weekend for Nigeria in which three female suicide bombers, including one thought to be as young as 10, killed at least 23 people in the restive northeast.

His comments echoed those from the head of the UN children's fund, Anthony Lake, who said on Sunday that harrowing reports from survivors of the a massive attack on Baga on January 3 and the use of a 10-year-old girl as a human bomb “should be searing the conscience of the world”.

“These images of recent days and all they imply for the future of Nigeria should galvanise effective action. For this cannot go on,” the Unicef executive director said.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticised for his failure to end the insurgency, issued a statement condemning the Paris attacks but rarely comments on attacks in his own country.

As Nigeria was attacked again on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets in solidarity with millions in France to protest against terrorist attacks that left 17 people dead in Paris last week.

More than 13,000 people have died in the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria since 2009 and hundreds of thousands more have been made homeless.

In the Baga attack, Boko Haram fighters are thought to have carried out the worst massacre in the six-year insurgency, razing the town and at least 16 surrounding settlements on the shores of Lake Chad.

There have been local claims of mass slaughter in Baga but there is as yet no independent corroboration of the figures.

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