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Tension deepened still further between the US and Pakistan Thursday as the latter's Army said its troops fired on more helicopters crossing the border with Afghanistan. In a statement, it accused the "foreign" aircraft of being "well within" Pakistani territory at the time and said they had returned fire. The Pentagon acknowledged that the helicopters were American and had come under fire but said "at no point" were they over Pakistani soil. Pakistan, it said, needs to explain why the incident occurred.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, the leaders of India and Pakistan said "violence, hostility, and terrorism have no place in the vision they share" of a bilateral relationship.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and new President Asif Ali Zardari, respectively, agreed that their foreign ministers should meet within 90 days to try to further the peace process that has been sidetracked by more than two dozen incidents of cross-border violence this year. Two trade routes across the Line of Division are scheduled to open Oct. 21.

As expected, members of parliament in South Africa elected the deputy chief of the ruling party as the nation's new president. Kgalema Motlanthe succeeds Thabo Mbeki, who resigned under pressure last weekend. Motlanthe, regarded as a leftist intellectual, was sworn in immediately as the third post-apartheid chief of state.

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Liftoff was imminent Thursday night for China's third manned mission into space. Its crew was poised to ride into orbit aboard the Shenzhou VII capsule, with the program's first space walk due Friday or Saturday, depending on how quickly the three astronauts adapt to weightlessness.

Despite tight security precautions, someone exploded a bomb outside City Hall in the former capital of Burma Thursday, wounding at least seven people, reports said. Police quickly cordoned off the area in Rangoon. The incident took place a day before the first anniversary of a violent crackdown against antigovernment protesters that drew international condemnation.

Worry grew in Finland and neighboring Sweden that disturbed youths might be planning copycat shootings at schools after a gunman killed 10 people and then took his own life earlier this week. The incident was the second in less than a year, and investigators found that both shooters had bought their guns from the same dealer. In Koping, Sweden, a teenager was arrested for illegal possession of a gun after posting a video on YouTube similar to those by the latest of the shooters in Finland.

The 11 foreign tourists and their guides who were kidnapped in southern Egypt earlier this week have been moved to a new location inside Libya, reports said Thursday. A senior official with Sudan's Foreign Ministry said Libyan authorities "are following the progress of the group." The captors first took their hostages into Sudan, where they reportedly sought a ransom of about $9 million. The hostages include five Germans, five Italians, a Romanian, and eight Egyptians.

Business tycoon Li Ka-shing bought up blocks of shares in Hong Kong's prestigious Bank of East Asia Thursday in what analysts said was a vote of confidence after its stock price plunged. Li, often regarded as the wealthiest man in China, acted as hundreds of depositors extended a run on their savings into a second straight day amid the growing financial woes in the US. Hong Kong's de facto central bank, the Monetary Authority, injected $500 million into the credit market to help ensure that banks "have enough money to handle various kinds of problems."

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