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Sudan's Bashir Leaves Nigeria Amid Calls for Arrest

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has left Nigeria after calls from human-rights activists demanding his arrest on war-crimes charges.

Sudanese officials say Mr. Bashir flew back to Khartoum on Monday - less than 24 hours after his arrival. He took part in an African Union summit on AIDS that runs through Tuesday. The officials say his departure was not related to the calls for his arrest.

Activists filed suit Monday in Nigeria's Federal High Court in an effort to make authorities arrest the Sudanese leader. Mr. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.

The ICC said Tuesday that it had asked Nigeria to arrest Mr. Bashir and hand him over to the court's custody.

Human Rights Watch, which called Mr. Bashir's visit an affront to his victims, argued that Nigeria was obligated to arrest Mr. Bashir because of its membership in the court.

A Nigerian presidential spokesman had indicated that authorities would not arrest Mr. Bashir. The spokesman said Mr. Bashir came at the invitation of the African Union, which has supported Mr. Bashir's refusal to surrender to the ICC or accept the court's authority.

The ICC accuses Mr. Bashir him of orchestrating crimes including murder, rape and extermination against civilians in Darfur, where rebel groups have been fighting the Bashir government since 2003.

Mr. Bashir has denied the charges and defied the ICC's warrant for his arrest, but is careful to visit countries only that are not members of the ICC or have guaranteed his safety.

Several African countries including South Africa, have refused entry to the Sudanese leader.