World briefs: Afghanistan insider attack suspect flees

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan soldier arrested in the shooting death of one coalition soldier and the wounding of four others last week escaped from custody Sunday morning after a soldier guarding him devised an elaborate ruse to sneak him out through a military hospital, officials said.

The imprisoned soldier, identified as Lamber Khan, and his guard escaped from an Afghan army base in the southern province of Kandahar, according to Gen. Abdul Hameed, the commander of the Afghan 205th Army Corps.

The attack was just the sixth so-called insider attack this year, a term used when an Afghan soldier turns his weapons on coalition allies.

Such attacks, also known as green-on-blue violence, skyrocketed last year, briefly upending the training mission seen as crucial to the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan over the next year. But a concerted effort on the part of the coalition and Afghan forces has significantly reduced the deaths.

That the suspect escaped with the help of a fellow soldier, however, underscored the continued animosity within some pockets of the Afghan army toward their trainers and, more broadly, the Western military presence.

Spanish PM scandal

MADRID -- Spanish opposition leaders on Sunday urged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign after a newspaper published what it said were text messages Mr. Rajoy sent to his party's former treasurer after the treasurer was accused of making slush fund payoffs to politicians including Mr. Rajoy.

The ongoing scandal of alleged secret payments has shaken Mr. Rajoy's governing Popular Party and damaged its popularity ratings. The publication of the text messages by the El Mundo newspaper placed even more pressure on Mr. Rajoy, whose resignation was demanded by leaders of two key opposition groups.

The El Mundo report showcased what it identified as text messages over a period of three years between Mr. Rajoy and former Popular Party treasurer Luis Barcenas, who was a key player in the party's financial division for two decades.

Mr. Barcenas, jailed last month while he awaits possible trial on tax fraud and money-laundering charges, told El Mundo last week that the party has long been illegally financed. El Mundo said documents show Mr. Rajoy received 42,000 euros ($54,000) in payments while serving as a minister between 1997 and 1999.

Conservative wins in Baja

MEXICO CITY -- Nearly a week after the election for governor in Baja California, the candidate for the conservative party that has ruled the state for a generation was declared the victor.

Francisco Vega of the National Action Party narrowly defeated Fernando Castro Trenti of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The difference was fewer than 25,000 votes.

The vote count, abruptly halted on election night, July 7, was completed over the weekend, and the PRI recognized its loss.

Typhoon downgraded

BEIJING -- Typhoon Soulik has been downgraded to a storm after forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in southeast China and killed at least two in Taiwan.

China's National Meteorological Center said it was downgraded to a tropical storm by late Saturday, and by early Sunday morning after moving inland from Fujian province, it had further weakened to a tropical low pressure.

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