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World court issues arrest warrant for Sudan's Bashir

Omar al-Bashir is the first sitting president to be indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Critics worry the move could destabilize the country.

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Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday became the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

At a press conference held at The Hague, Netherlands, The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced its indictment of Mr. Bashir for a range of crimes, including the deliberate attempt to destroy ethnic groups deemed to be supporting rebel factions in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

"He is suspected of being criminally responsible ... for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan; murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property," said ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon.

The three-judge panel said there was insufficient evidence to support the more controversial charges of genocide, however.

Nearly 300,000 Darfuris have died in the past six years of conflict, either in combat or through starvation and premature death due to displacement. The United Nations estimates that nearly 2.5 million Darfuris have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting. Bashir's government denies ordering the deliberate murder of civilians in Darfur, and says that the death toll is much lower than the UN and the ICC estimates.

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