The conflict in Darfur began in February 2003 when rebels rose up against the government. They accused the authorities of ignoring problems in their region and discriminating against non-Arab farmers. Khartoum responded to attacks on government targets by mobilising Arab militias to help put down the revolt. Witnesses say the militiamen, known locally as Janjaweed, pillaged and burned villages, and killed civilians. The government denies it supported the violent campaigns.