Venezuela: New Russian fighters

President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela will buy 24 Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets this year, and his government will build a factory to produce Kalashnikov assault rifles. Chavez said Wednesday that the SU-30 jets will replace a fleet of U.S.-made F-16s, which he says Venezuela has had trouble maintaining because the United States has refused to sell his government upgrades. Chavez has used surging oil revenues to modernize Venezuela’s military while warning that the country must be prepared for a potential conflict with the United States.

Thailand: Bomb attacks in south

Suspected Muslim insurgents exploded more than 40 bombs in attacks on government offices across Thailand’s restive south Thursday, killing at least two people as the deputy prime minister visited the region, officials said. At least 16 people were injured in the blasts, most of which went off between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. as people headed to work in the three Muslim-majority provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, the local governor said.

Serbia: Montenegro recognized

The Serbian government recognized newly independent Montenegro on Thursday, and said it would establish diplomatic ties with its former partner in the now defunct Serbia-Montenegro union. The tiny Balkan republic declared independence from Serbia on June 3, after its citizens supported the split by a slim margin in a May 21 referendum. Serbia had opposed the separation and initially disputed the results of Montenegro’s referendum, fueling fears of tension between the two nations.

Sri Lanka: Warplanes bomb rebels

Government forces bombed rebel Tamil Tiger positions Thursday after a pair of powerful Claymore mines ripped apart a civilian bus and killed 68 people in the deadliest attack since the two parties declared a truce four years ago. The violence heightened fears of a return to civil war in this island nation, despite both sides’ insistence that their official cease-fire agreement remained in effect. The rebels, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, denied responsibility for the bus explosion.

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