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Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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World Digest

Artifacts along coast may be from ship

Archaeologists said Monday that porcelain plates and other artifacts found along the Baja California coast could be from the wreckage of a Spanish galleon that sailed between the Philippines and Mexico hundreds of years ago.

Seals and other markings on some of the estimated 1,000 fragments of porcelain plates found at the site indicate they were made in China in the late 1500s, said archaeologist Luz Maria Mejia of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The site, near the port of Ensenada about 50 miles south of the U.S. border, is covered by shifting sand dunes that have kept artifacts like these hidden for centuries. Archaeologists have been scouring the dunes for years to try to find relics from old Pacific trading ships.

Caracas, Venezuela

Chávez takes over private oil projects

President Hugo Chávez ordered by decree on Monday the takeover of oil projects run by foreign oil companies in Venezuela's Orinoco River region.

Chávez had previously announced the government's intention to take a majority stake by May 1 in four heavy oil-upgrading projects run by British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Total SA and Statoil ASA.

Chávez did not detail how the government will pay for its increased share in the projects in which the companies are estimated to have invested some $17 billion.

Lahore, Pakistan

At least 11 killed at kite-flying festival

At least 11 people were killed and more than 100 people injured by sharpened kite strings, stray bullets and other accidents at an annual kite-flying festival in eastern Pakistan, officials said Monday.

The two-day Basant festival is regularly marred by casualties caused by sharpened kite strings or celebratory gunshots fired into the air. Kite flyers often use strings made of wire or coated with ground glass to try to damage a rival's kite, often after betting on the outcome.

Seoul

Victims of bullying may get bodyguards

South Korean students who have trouble with school bullies can soon call on the government to provide them with bodyguards.

South Korea plans to start a trial service next month to cut down on school violence. As a part of that, it will provide personal protection for those bullied students who seek it as they travel to and from school, an official said today.

The bodyguards — which local media said were likely to come from the police, private security firms and volunteers — will not sit with students during class.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

U.S., Italian envoys "slightly injured"

The U.S. and Italian ambassadors to Sri Lanka were wounded when their helicopters came under fire today from ethnic Tamil rebels who said they mistook them for a military target.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake and his Italian counterpart Pio Mariani had just landed in the eastern city of Batticaloa when several mortars exploded near their aircraft, said Sri Lankan government minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who was traveling with the diplomats.

He said the ambassadors both "suffered slight injuries" but were "fine" now. Seven Sri Lankan security personnel also were wounded, he said.

The rebel Tamil Tigers said they were not aware the helicopters were carrying ambassadors and blamed the military for putting the diplomats in harm's way.

Seattle Times news services

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