United Nations, Feb 28: The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday slammed "the continuing indiscriminate and horrific attacks" by Boko Haram against civilian populations in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, his spokesperson said.
"The abduction and use of children, including as 'suicide bombers', is particularly abhorrent," said Ban in a statement read by Stephane Dujarric at a regular briefing at the UN headquarters.
At least 19 people were killed in a suicide attack on a bus station in Biu town of Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno on Thursday, for which Nigeria blamed Boko Haram. The Islamist insurgency has killed thousands and forced over one million people to flee their homes.
Ban was encouraged by recent "positive steps" of regional countries to fight the extremist group and called on international partners to provide support.
The latest operation against Boko Haram is coming on the heels of an agreement reached by regional leaders from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger to adopt a coordinated response to the group.
Meanwhile, Ban was also "concerned" by the impact of combat operations on local populations and called on the countries "to give the highest priority to the protection of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons, including by providing them with life-saving support".
The UN chief stressed that "a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency."
"Only through a multi-dimensional approach that addresses legitimate grievances, past and current human rights violations, and root causes of the conflict, will we be able to effectively respond to the barbaric threat posed by Boko Haram to regional peace and security and to local populations," said Ban in the statement.