The Khartoum government and former rebels in the newly independent south are beefing up their military forces along the still-to-be-defined border in Sudan, heightening fears of a new war over oil that could destabilize northeast Africa.
Imagery from civilian satellites show the buildups are most concentrated around the flashpoint Abyei region, the most disputed of the oil-producing zones and the scene of constant skirmishing in recent weeks.
Fighting has escalated between ethnic southern and northern tribes in the area, which international observers say appears to have been fanned by the Khartoum regime in a bid to seize the territory.
If serious fighting erupts, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war could be shattered, threatening the formal independence of the south scheduled for July 9.
In a January referendum, the people of the Christian and animist south voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession from the Arab dominated north.
But the vital issue of how Sudan’s oil resources, essential to both sides, is to be divided remains unresolved, with no indication that an agreement is likely any time soon. The south stormed out of negotiations March 12.