A group of US lawmakers and film star George Clooney were arrested at Sudan's embassy in Washington on Friday in a protest at which activists accused Khartoum of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching a volatile border region where hundreds of thousands of people may be short of food.
Protest organizers said those arrested included US Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Al Green of Texas, Jim Moran of Virginia and John Olver of Massachusetts - all Democrats. Organizers said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain U.S. civil rights hero, also were arrested.
Clooney, his father Nick and the other anti-Sudan activists ignored three police warnings to leave the embassy grounds and were led away in plastic handcuffs to a waiting van by uniformed members of the Secret Service, a Reuters journalist covering the demonstration said.
"We need humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world," Clooney told reporters just before his arrest.
"The second thing we are here to ask is for the government in Khartoum to stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children. Stop raping them and stop starving them. That's all we ask."
Clooney, who on Wednesday was a guest at the White House banquet in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron, and several others posted bail and walked free later on Friday.
Sudan has denied US concerns that famine might break out in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, although there is almost no independent access to the region, making it difficult to assess the humanitarian situation.
Khartoum has also restricted access of the United Nations and foreign aid agencies to the region, although it recently did allow the return of some UN international staff.