Is This What They Call Payback?
1 | INDIA
Israeli officials pinned bomb blasts in the capitals of India, Georgia and Thailand on the isolated Iranian regime. In New Delhi on Feb. 13, an assailant reportedly affixed a "sticky" bomb to a car carrying the wife of an Israeli diplomat; it detonated near the Israeli embassy, injuring four. On the same day, in Tbilisi, an attempt to blow up an Israeli-embassy vehicle was foiled. The next day, three explosions in Bangkok injured four and ripped off the legs of a suspected bomber, who Thai police say is Iranian. Officials in all three countries refrained from speculating too much about the attacks before investigations are completed. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, "Iran stands behind the bombers." Feb. 12 marked the fourth anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyah, former military commander of Hizballah, a radical Shi'ite group based in Lebanon that often serves as Iran's proxy. He is thought to have been killed by Israeli agents, who are also implicated in the recent mysterious deaths of several Iranian nuclear scientists. Israel has been loudly calling for increased international pressure on the Iranian nuclear program. Tehran denied any involvement in the blasts.
Flames and Tears
2 | HONDURAS
A deadly fire swept through a prison in the town of Comayagua, killing over 300 inmates in one of Latin America's worst prison disasters. Investigators are still unsure whether the blaze was sparked by a riot or an electrical fault. Those who survived recounted horrifying tales of inmates trapped behind the bars of their cells and engulfed in flame and smoke. Outraged relatives of the victims massed outside the facility and attempted to storm its gates to retrieve the remains of loved ones. Prison overcrowding is a problem throughout Latin America, but it is particularly acute in Honduras and other Central American nations. The region suffers some of the highest murder rates in the world and is home to a growing number of transnational crime syndicates.
'Now their souls are at peace.'
FELIX KATONGO, Zambian soccer player, speaking about the Zambian team that perished in a tragic 1993 plane crash near Libreville, the capital of Gabon. On Feb. 12, in the same city, Zambia defied the odds and won the final of the African Cup of Nations.
Can This Man Defeat Chvez?
3 | VENEZUELA
For the first time since Hugo Chvez, the former army officer turned regional demagogue, came to power in Venezuela's 1998 elections, his once hopelessly incompetent rivals have managed to galvanize support for a potential challenger to his entrenched rule. Henrique Capriles (above), a centrist state governor, will face off against Chvez in presidential elections Oct. 7 after winning a landslide victory in an opposition primary, which was noteworthy for the sheer volume of voters who turned out. Though Chvez controls Venezuela's vast oil reserves as well as a formidable state-run media and patronage apparatus, growing disquiet over inflation as well as the country's deteriorating law-and-order situation may boost support for Capriles.
The Battle Has Just Begun
4 | SYRIA