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In brief: Gunman in Afghan uniform kills three Americans

KABUL, Afghanistan – Three Americans were killed Friday when a man in an Afghan security force uniform turned his weapon against them, U.S. military officials said.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said it hadn’t been confirmed whether the attacker was a member of Afghanistan’s security forces. But the incident, in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province, appears to be the latest in a series of so-called green-on-blue attacks by local forces on their coalition counterparts.

The International Security Assistance Force, as the U.S.-led coalition is formally known, has recorded about 67 green-on-blue attacks since January 2007. Forty-five such incidents, or two-thirds, have occurred since the beginning of last year - three this week alone. On Tuesday, two men wearing Afghan National Army uniforms shot a U.S. soldier to death in eastern Paktia province. On Thursday, an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of coalition troops outside a military base in eastern Afghanistan. No international forces were killed in that incident, but the coalition reported that the attacker was killed when its forces returned fire.

Twenty-eight coalition soldiers have been killed and about 60 wounded in 24 green-on-blue attacks this year.

Bodies found after crackdown

MEXICO CITY – Police found eight decomposing bodies Friday inside a car abandoned by a waterpark in northern Mexico, a day after authorities in a neighboring state located a sports utility vehicle with 14 bodies stuffed inside.

The most recent grisly find was in the town of Fresnillo near a warehouse where police had recently seized drugs, Zacatecas state government said in a statement.

The badly decomposed bodies were left there several days ago, it said.

Drug violence has killed more than 47,500 people since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against Mexico’s cartels when he took office in December 2006.

Also on Friday, five gunmen were killed during a clash with federal police in the western state of Michoacan, the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement.

Lightning kills 10, injures 20

SYLHET, Bangladesh – At least 10 devotees have been killed by lightning just outside a mosque in northeastern Bangladesh.

Local police chief Bayes Ahmed said 20 other people were injured by the lightning late Friday in Sylhet district. The victims were struck by the lightning as they were exiting the mosque following special prayers tied to the holy month of Ramadan.

The fasting month of Ramadan is being observed across Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation.

Sylhet district is 120 miles northeast of the capital, Dhaka.

Venezuela detains U.S. man

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez said Venezuelan authorities have detained an American man and are interrogating him, suspecting he could be a “mercenary” plotting to destabilize the country if the opposition loses the upcoming presidential election.

Chavez told reporters on Friday that under questioning the man said he had been a U.S. Marine.

“The man has military training and he refuses to give information. That in itself is suspicious,” Chavez said on state television.

Chavez did not identify the man nor detail the accusations against him.

Chavez said the man was detained while crossing into Venezuela from Colombia on a bus in the middle of the night. He said the American had entered the country illegally.

A U.S. State Department official said the U.S. government had not been notified of the arrest by the Venezuelan government.

Storm sweeps into Mexico

VERACRUZ, Mexico – Ernesto weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland Friday, killing seven people and dumping rains in the mountains of Mexico’s flood-prone southern Gulf region.

In Veracruz state, two people were killed early Friday, including a teenage girl who was inside a car dragged by a river current and a 62-year-old man who was struck by lightning, the state’s civil protection department said in a statement.

It said three members of a family died Thursday night when strong winds knocked down a tree that fell on their car, the state’s civil protection department said in a statement.

A 38-year-old man, his wife and their 8-year-old boy were killed, it added.

In neighboring Tabasco state, two fishermen drowned when the storm passed through the area Thursday, Gov. Andres Granier told reporters.

Ernesto came ashore Thursday near the waters dotted with oil rigs operated by the state oil company in the far southern Gulf of Mexico.


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