PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say security forces killed around 30 militants Thursday after coming under attack in a tribal region near the Afghan border. Officials say one soldier was killed and four were wounded in fighting in the Mohmand region. Mohmand neighbors the Bajaur tribal region, where the Pakistani military says it recently completed an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Commanders showed reporters a vast network of caves in the area used as militant hideouts. The United States has supported Pakistan's efforts to rid its border regions of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters who launch cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
IRAQ: A string of attacks in Baghdad killed at least 14 people, half of them
soldiers, as Iraqis cast early ballots Thursday in the country's
Two suicide bombers struck separate polling sites in the Iraqi capital,
killing seven soldiers and wounding at least 25 other people.
Earlier, officials say a rocket or roadside bomb attack killed seven people at a polling site that was not being used.
An early voting session is underway for those who may not be able to
get to the polls on Sunday. That includes soldiers who will have to be
at work when the rest of the country votes, as well as prisoners and
CHINA - DEFENSE BUDGET: A spokesman for China's parliament says the country's official military budget will rise 7.5-percent this year -- the smallest increase in years. Li Zhaoxing announced Thursday the 2010 defense budget will be $77.9 billion. Last year's defense expenditure was about $72 billion. Li said China is committed to peaceful development and the country's military is focused on defense. The Xinhua news agency quotes Li as saying the new defense figures will not be final until the budget plan is approved at the annual session of the National People's Congress, which opens Friday.
KOREAS - TENSIONS: South Korean military officials say troops fired warning shots at several North Korean soldiers this week who crossed the border in apparent pursuit of a defecting colleague. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff office says two or three North Korean soldiers crossed the Military Demarcation Line Tuesday but returned to their territory after South Korea aired a warning and fired warning shots. Military officials say the unidentified defector is being questioned. South Korea says more than 16,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the Korean War ended in 1953.
UN - BURMA: Two Nobel Peace Laureates will meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York Thursday to urge him to support their call for Burma's military leaders to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams say Burma's leaders should face charges of crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities against women. On Wednesday, the two laureates and human rights experts released findings from the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma meeting that was held this week in New York.
INDIA - STAMPEDE: At least 63 people were killed in a massive stampede at a temple in northern India, Thursday. Police say the dead included women and children, while many other people were injured. Thousand of people had gathered at the Ram Janki temple in Uttar Pradesh to collect free clothes and other goods being handed out during a religious festival. The stampede broke out when the main gate of the temple collapsed.
CHILE - EARTHQUAKE: Three strong aftershocks had citizens in Chile running for high ground,
days after a massive earthquake killed more than 800 people.
The quakes had a magnitude of about 6.0 and sparked a tsunami-warning
Wednesday in the town of Concepcion, leading panicked residents to race
for the hills.
The warning was later lifted, but residents remained fearful of future aftershocks.
Concepcion is Chile's second-largest city and was closest to the
epicenter of Saturday's 8.8 magnitude quake that caused widespread
damage and triggered a tsunami that traveled across the Pacific.
GREECE - ECONOMY: Dozens of union laborers have occupied Greece's finance ministry in Athens a day after the Greek Cabinet approved broad new spending cuts. The austerity measures approved Wednesday include a two-percent rise in sales tax, a pension freeze, and salary cuts for civil servants. The package is aimed at saving Greece $6.5 billion. European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso voiced support for the initiatives. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday.
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