Police in Sudan Break Up Islamist Demonstration

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Police used tear gas and batons to break up an Islamist demonstration Saturday calling for more troops in disputed southern border regions less than a month before the south's independence, a spokesman for the leading Islamist party said.

North and south Sudan fought a more than two-decade civil war that ended with a 2005 peace agreement, and the south voted overwhelmingly for independence. Southern Sudan is poised to become the world's newest nation in July.

But tensions over the border regions of Abyei -- a fertile land near major oil fields -- and Kordofan have raised fears of conflict only weeks before the south secedes.

Saturday's demonstration had the proper permits and was intended to be a show of support for the north's decision to send troops to Abyei and Kordufan, said Ibrahim Osman Abu Khalil, spokesman for the Islamic Liberation Party. But he said as some 5,000 members gathered outside the party headquarters, officials suddenly announced that it was no longer allowed.

Abu Khalil said seven party members were arrested and two remained in detention hours later. One party member was seriously injured, he said.

Northern troops invaded Abyei after a May 19 attack on northern and U.N. troops by southern soldiers. The U.N. report said two northern soldiers were killed in that attack, which it called a trigger for the invasion but one that appeared to be a "deliberate plan" by the north, which was already building up troops in the area.