The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, on grounds of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.
The court Wednesday said Mr. Bashir is suspected of being criminally responsible for attacks on civilians in Darfur, where Sudan's government has been fighting rebels for the past six years.
Specific charges against Mr. Bashir include murder, rape, torture, extermination, pillaging property, and the forcible transfer of a large number of civilians.
Sudanese officials quickly rejected the court's decision, saying they do not recognize the ICC's authority. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to protest.
Sudanese officials also say President Bashir plans to attend an Arab summit in Qatar later this month despite the warrant for his arrest.
There were no counts of genocide in the ICC's warrant. Court officials say prosecutors failed to show the government had a specific intent to destroy three ethnic groups perceived to support the rebels.
The Hague-based tribunal issued the warrant after months of deliberation by a three-judge panel.
ICC prosecutors requested the warrant last July.
There were no reports of violent protests in Sudan Wednesday. The U.S. embassy in Khartoum had warned the ICC's decision could spark such protests or attacks against Americans and Europeans.
There also were no reports of attacks against U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan. The United Nations has about 25,000 peacekeepers serving in missions in Darfur and southern Sudan.
Mr. Bashir becomes the first sitting head of state to be ordered arrested by the ICC since its formation in 2002.
The United Nations says the fighting and related violence in Darfur have killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million others. Sudan puts the death toll much lower, at 10,000.