(LONDON and BERLIN) -- German authorities said Thursday that "a number of items were seized" in Portugal during a renewed search for missing British child Madeleine McCann.
"These will be evaluated in the coming days and weeks," the Braunschweig District Attorney's Office in Germany said in a statement. "It is not yet possible to say whether any of the items are actually related to the Madeleine McCann case."
German, Portuguese and British police took part in the three-day operation in the Algarve region of southern Portugal last week, during which officers were seen scouring the banks of the Arade reservoir for possible evidence. The area is about 30 miles from the Praia da Luz resort, where McCann was last seen in 2007. The 3-year-old was on vacation with her family at the time.
A number of searches have been conducted over the years, but the latest was done at the request of German authorities. Portuguese police said last week that all material collected during the operation would be handed over to German authorities for examination.
"Sincere thanks go out to all police officers involved in the search," the Braunschweig District Attorney's Office said. "The cooperation between the Portuguese police, the police officers from Great Britain and the and the Federal Criminal Police Office was excellent and very constructive."
In 2020, German police identified 45-year-old German citizen Christian Brueckner as a suspect in McCann's disappearance. Brueckner, who was in Portugal's Algarve region in 2007, is currently in jail in the northern German city of Braunschweig for a different case.
"The investigations conducted here in Braunschweig against the 46-year-old suspect are are expected to continue for some time," the district attorney's office added.
(NEW YORK) -- Canada has announced that it will begin putting individual warning labels on cigarettes and other tobacco products in an effort to further reduce their appeal, becoming the world’s first country to use such a measure.
Beginning on Aug. 1, Canada will implement a phased approach that will force cigarette companies to put individual health warnings on their products starting with king size cigarettes by the end of July 2024 and all other products -- including regular size cigarettes and little cigars -- by the end of April 2025.
“The new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations will be part of the Government of Canada's continued efforts to help adults who smoke to quit, to protect youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction, and to further reduce the appeal of tobacco,” Health Canada said in a statement announcing the new tobacco labelling policy. “Labelling the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products will make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether. In addition, the regulations will support Canada's Tobacco Strategy and its target of reaching less than 5% tobacco use by 2035.”
Canada announced other measures they plan on implementing as well such as strengthening and updating health-related messages on tobacco product packaging, extending the requirement for these messages to all tobacco product packaging and making sure there is a periodic rotation of the message.
“Tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year. We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages. This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable, and together with updated graphic images displayed on the package, will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking,” Carolyn Bennett, minister of Mental Health and Addictions and associate minister of Health, said in the government’s statement announcing the new measures. “We will continue to do whatever it takes to help more people in Canada stop smoking and help young people to live healthy tobacco-free lives.”
While copies of the full regulations are currently available upon request, the new policy will be published for the general public on June 7 in an edition of the Canada Gazette, Health Canada said.
“The requirement for a health warning directly on every cigarette is a world precedent setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff,” said Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society. “The new regulations deserve strong support.”
Canada first adopted imaged warning requirements on tobacco product packages in 2000 but the current health-related messages and images for cigarettes and little cigars have been in place since 2011. These new regulations also bring Canada into full compliance with the tobacco labelling obligations under Article 11 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by extending health warning and toxicity information requirements to all tobacco product packages.
“Tobacco use continues to be one of Canada's most significant public health problems, and is the country's leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s minister of Health, in the announcement. “Our government is using every evidence-based tool at our disposal to help protect the health of Canadians, especially young people. Beginning next year, these new measures will help make sure that everyone across the country can receive credible information on the risks of tobacco use so they can make healthier choices for their wellbeing.”
Morgan Winsor, Shannon K. Crawford, and Ayat Al-Tawy, ABC News
(KHARTOUM, Sudan) -- Sudan is on the brink of collapse as forces loyal to two rival generals are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation.
The ongoing conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the United States, to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely.
In recent weeks, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been mediating negotiations between Sudan's warring factions in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. But those talks fell apart on May 31, as both sides accused the other of violating a humanitarian cease-fire.
Here's what we know about the situation in Sudan and how it unfolded.
Who is fighting and why?
Fighting erupted in Khartoum on April 15 in a culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan's power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019.
Officially formed in 2013, the RSF evolved out of the notorious Janjaweed militias used by the Sudanese government to crush an armed rebellion in the Darfur region in the 2000s. Sudanese forces and the Janjaweed were accused of committing war crimes in Darfur. Ultimately, the International Criminal Court charged Sudan's former dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir al-Bashir with genocide.
After overthrowing al-Bashir and carrying out a coup, Burhan became Sudan's de facto ruler with Hemedti as his right-hand man. In recent months, military and civilian leaders have been engaged in negotiations to reach a power-sharing deal that would return Sudan to the democratic transition and end the political crisis. But long-simmering tensions between the two generals boiled over amid demands that the RSF be disbanded and integrated into the army.
"Hemedti started to believe he had been deceived by Burhan and that the overthrow of the [transitional] government was primarily aimed at serving old-regime figures given the intertwined interests they share," Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a Sudan-based writer and political analyst, told ABC News. "The final straw was disagreement over the security and military reform dossier," which Aziz said is a key aspect of making the transitional period work.
Burhan wants the planned integration of the RSF to take place in two years, while Hemedti insists it should be stretched out over a decade. Now, they are in a vicious power struggle and neither have shown any real indication of backing down.
"The situation now is the worst-case scenario," Jon Temin, vice president of policy and programs at the Truman Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C., told ABC News. "The two generals seem pretty set on fighting it out and seeing who wins, and an incredible number of people are going to suffer along the way."
What's at stake?
The international community has repeatedly called on Sudan's warring parties to immediately lay down their arms and engage in dialogue. But proposed cease-fires have barely held, if at all.
If fighting persists, it could evolve into another civil war that might drag on for years, spelling disaster for a nation that sits at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East, bordering the Red Sea. A number of countries in the region are connected through open borders.
"There are two equally unpleasant courses of action: if any of the two sides wins, this will not achieve democracy in Sudan and will be seen as a bad scenario for civil forces," Aziz said. "If the conflict continues and division deepens and extends wider, it will turn into a civil war that will have ramifications beyond Sudan."
"Millions of people will flee to Europe through the Mediterranean." he added. "Neighboring countries already grappling with economic woes will face more pressure when new people are added to their population."
Why is the US concerned?
The clashes have spread outside Khartoum, though "the heaviest concentration of fighting" remains centered in the densely populated capital, according to the WHO. Although Sudan is no stranger to conflict, warfare in Khartoum is unprecedented.
The U.S. is concerned that Sudan's conflict could spread further and has been in contact with the rival sides "every single day ... trying to get them to put down their arms, to abide by the cease-fires that they themselves say they want and to return to some sort of civilian authority," according to John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House.
"We're doing everything we can to get this fighting stopped," Kirby told ABC News. "This is a centrally located, very important, very large African country. We are concerned that other partners, other nations will be affected by this -- not just in the region, but beyond -- so that's why we're working so hard to get this violence stopped."
But it's questionable how much influence the U.S. or the larger international community has on Sudan's warring sides.
"We are looking at a civil war with no end line, with no end game -- and that's why you saw all these countries, including the United States, pull out their diplomats and their citizens out of Sudan," Hussain Abdul-Hussain, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., told ABC News. "I don't think any one of these countries has enough leverage to push any one of the fighting parties to step back or to compromise."
There's also a risk that the conflict could create a security vacuum, which Aziz said "will invite militant groups to take Sudan as a haven or a pathway to target other countries in the region and weapons will infiltrate through the borders."
In 1993, the U.S. designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism for supporting international terrorist groups. Sudan notoriously hosted al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and other militants in the mid-1990s. The U.S. removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism list after Khartoum agreed to forge ties with Israel in 2020.
"With nations politically, economically and security fragile like Sudan, the importance of national institutions comes to the forefront," Mohamed Fayez Farhat, director of al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told ABC News. "Sudan now is seeing the absence of those institutions. The army is a pillar for stability."
Morgan Winsor, Emma Ogao and Ayat Al-Tawy, ABC News
(LONDON) -- Negotiations between Sudan's warring parties fell apart Wednesday as both sides accused each other of cease-fire violations.
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) announced its decision to suspend its participation in talks with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group, due to the RSF's "lack of commitment in implementing any of the terms of the agreement and its continuous violation of the cease-fire.”
There was no immediate comment Saudi Arabia or the United States, which have been mediating the talks.
In response to the military's move, RSF said in a statement that it "unconditionally backs the Saudi-U.S. inititive" and the "recent SAF violations have not deterred us from honoring our commitments."
The development came after the two sides agreed to a five-day extension of a shaky humanitarian cease-fire that was set to expire Monday evening. Both Riyadh and Washington had expressed impatience with persistent breaches of the weeklong truce.
Fighting erupted in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, on April 15 in a culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the SAF, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the RSF. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan's power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019. Now, they are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation and neither has shown any real indication of backing down.
The conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the U.S., to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely. Meanwhile, aid groups have struggled to get desperately needed supplies into the war-torn country.
(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korea acknowledged on Wednesday its failure to launch a military spy satellite, an attempt that U.S. officials called a "brazen violation" of U.N. resolutions.
After admitting the failure in an unusually short time, North Korea’s state news agency reported that a second launch attempt will be made as soon as possible.
The satellite crashed into the West Sea as it lost its thrust due to an abnormality in the start of the two-stage mover after the first stage was separated during a normal flight, according to state media.
The satellite essentially blew up in the air, an embarrassment for Kim Jong Un's government, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. North Korea said in 2018 that it put a satellite into space, but international analysts later said that wasn't true.
Citizens in Seoul, South Korea received a "presidential alert" phone message early on Wednesday morning, shortly after the satellite launch, from the Seoul Metropolitan Government which noted that “all citizens should be ready to evacuate.”
Twenty-two minutes later, the Ministry of Interior and Safety in charge of sending disaster alerts across the country sent another alert noting that the initial message to Seoul was “an erroneous alert."
Another 22 minutes later, Seoul Metropolitan Government clarified that their earlier message was due to a “North Korean missile launch” and “the alert has been lifted.”
Some citizens whose phones’ operating systems were set up in English received messages titled “wartime alert,” which sent jitters across the foreign community.
The confusing alert messages from the city and the government raised criticisms over whether the authorities were overreacting or actively administering.
“Unlike North Korea’s usual launch into the East Sea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is responsible for the safety of 10 million citizens in the situation of launching south this time, decided that immediate action is necessary and issued an alert,” Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul, said.
“South Korean people are not trained nor have they been carrying out drills to prepare for such attacks. The problem is, cases like this will most likely happen again more frequently,” Park Jae Wan, professor of Security Strategy at Seoul-based Kookmin University in Seoul, told ABC News.
President Joe Biden and his national security team are assessing the launch in close coordination with allies and partners, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge.
The launch used ballistic missile technology, "which is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond," Hodge said in a statement.
"We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations," Hodge said. "The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement."
South Korea’s military retrieved parts of North Korea’s satellite wreckage from the sea and plans to analyze the technology used in the projectile which North Korea claims to be a "satellite."
North Korea's National Space Development Administration is analyzing the cause of the accident.
Wednesday’s launch also prompted brief evacuation alerts in Japan.
(SEOUL, South Korea) -- On a recent Thursday afternoon, the soft melody of Bach's "Amazing Grace" filled the bustling streets of Seoul.
The solemn tunes coming from the violin and cello were part of a "Concert for Peace." Twice a week, a handful of musicians perform near the Russian Embassy in Seoul to send a message to Vladimir Putin: end the war in Ukraine.
"I thought in the beginning this would end in a couple of months. I didn't know it was going to go on like this," Bae Il Hwan, an orchestra professor at Ewha Womans University, told ABC News.
Musicians like Hwan have pledged to play their instruments until the war comes to an end.
Bae set up the weekly concerts outside the Russian Embassy last year. More than a hundred musicians are involved.
"This was a good way of letting people know that these [aggressive] things are happening. We hope that peace is restored in Ukraine pretty soon," Anika Kim, who listened to a recent concert, told ABC News.
In May, Bae and his team of musicians were joined by Ukraine’s Chernivtsi Philharmonic orchestra. The musicians had traveled to Seoul with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska.
"Only about 20 female musicians came to Seoul because all of the male musicians are out on the battlefields fighting for freedom and justice," Bae said.
Twice a month Seoul's Ukraine community holds a peace protest near the Russian Embassy. The chant of "Support and solidarity for Ukraine" can be heard for blocks.
"We gathered as a community, as a Ukrainian community in Korea," Dmytro Vi, a lawyer who came to a peace protest, told ABC News. "Doesn't matter the weather, we’ll be [here] always, until the war ends."
(LONDON) -- Dozens of illegal miners have safely exited an underground gold mine shaft in the Ashanti region of Ghana after they were feared trapped.
Several illegal miners are reported to have entered AngloGold Ltd.’s Obuasi Mines in Anwiam, Ashanti Region, in search of gold deposits. However, the miners found themselves unable to exit after the entrances were shut.
At least 86 illegal miners have thus far exited the mine and are currently in custody of the Ghana Police Service, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana told ABC News on Wednesday.
“Intrusion of illegal miners into underground areas remains a significantly dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working alongside authorities to ensure that only authorized personnel and contractors can access underground work areas,” the company said.
In a statement sent to ABC News on Tuesday, AngloGold confirmed they are aware of reports alleging that illegal miners may have been trapped in the northern areas of their mine: “Obuasi Gold Mine’s management team has notified the relevant authorities and public security services and is working closely with them.”
Several illegal miners are reported to have been in the mine, according to local reports, with devastated family members of the miners telling local media that they have been unable to reach them for as much as four days.
No injuries have been reported thus far.
AngloGold has however denied any of the illegal miners were trapped or “confined in any way,” saying the main exit ramp -- where security and police remain -- were open: “Unauthorized persons underground are able to exit on foot, via the existing ramp, through the main access of this mining area.”
Local media reported that tensions have been high in Obuasi, with military personnel and police being deployed to Obuasi Police station and reports of gunshots being fired to disperse angry crowds who had gathered calling for release of their colleagues.
AngloGold Ltd. is the world’s fourth largest gold producer. According to AngloGold, their Obuasi underground mine operation runs to a depth of 1,500 meters at its deepest point. It has produced 250koz of gold, with a workforce of 4,403 people, including contractors.
Studies have found that rising unemployment coupled with the lucrativeness of mining -- Ghana is a leading gold producing nation in Africa -- has led to an upsurge in miners, many of whom operate illegally as a means to earn a living. Gold mining is a lucrative revenue source for corporations and small scale and artisanal miners alike; the artisanal and small-scale mining sector is estimated to employ up to one million people in Ghana.
According to Ghana's Minerals and Mining Act, persons partaking in small-scale mining are required to obtain a license, however regulation of small-scale mining in Africa's top gold-producing nation has been mostly unsuccessful, with research finding that over 85 percent of small-scale mining still occurs illegally. Poor regulation has also led to the occurrence human rights violations in Ghana's artisanal and small-scale mining trade such as of child labor, according to the Human Rights Watch.
“Intrusion of illegal miners into underground areas remains a significantly dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working alongside authorities to ensure that only authorized mine personnel and contractors can access underground work areas,” AngloGold tells ABC.
ABC reached out to Ghana’s Mineral Commission, who confirmed that the incident is ongoing, but declined to comment further.
(NEW YORK) -- A young couple who were living together have been shot dead by their landlord following a dispute with the man who was 30 years their elder, police say.
Police in Hamilton, Canada, initially received a call at approximately 5:40 p.m. on Saturday evening and responded to a residence on Jones Road in Stoney Creek, Ontario -- located 45 miles south of Toronto.
But when officers from the Hamilton Police Service arrived on site, they found two deceased victims -- a 27-year-old female and a 28-year-old male who would later be identified by the Hamilton Police Service as Carissa MacDonald of Stoney Creek, but formerly of Huntsville, and Aaron Stone from Hamilton.
The suspect involved in the double homicide was the 57-year-old landlord who had allegedly committed the crime before police arrived, according to the Hamilton Police Service.
“The 57-year-old landlord barricaded himself in the residence with firearms that were registered to him. Hamilton Police Emergency Response Unit contained the area, while negotiators engaged in contact with the male in an attempt to peacefully resolve the incident,” police said. “At one point during the negotiations, the suspect fired at the Hamilton Police [armored] vehicle. The suspect later fired additional rounds, which resulted in an interaction with police.”
The threat was neutralized by the police and authorities say Special Investigations Unit was subsequently contacted and invoked their mandate over the investigation. It was unclear whether the suspect had been taken into custody alive.
Families of both victims have been notified, police said, and several witnesses have already been interviewed by the Homicide Unit and have been cooperative with the ongoing investigation as police continue to appeal for more witnesses.
Anybody with information is asked to contact Detective Robert DiIanni of the Hamilton Police Service at 905-546-3836.
(NEW YORK) -- A passenger sitting next to the man on the Asiana Airlines flight who opened an emergency exit door in mid-air has spoken out about those terrifying moments on the plane.
Lee Yoon-Joon told the Yonhap News Agency that he initially didn't have a good impression of his seatmate, claiming the man gave off a "bad vibe."
After the man opened the door, Lee said he jumped into action, pulling the man back with the help of the flight attendants. Initially, they said they thought a mechanical malfunction had caused the door to open.
"Frankly speaking, I thought, 'Am I going to die?'" Lee recalled. "A million things were on my mind at that moment."
Lee said it became hard to breathe with the door open and the wind was like a "disaster movie." Other passengers on the plane were crying, he said.
"I am an ordinary citizen and did what the flight attendant told me," he added.
Dramatic video shows Lee, wearing red shorts, and his fellow passengers getting blasted by the high-speed wind through the open door in the final minutes of the flight.
"Air would be rushing by the airplane just outside," Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who was not on the flight, told ABC News, speaking to what the passengers would have experienced once the door was opened. "At that speed, about 160 miles an hour, from all indications, that would be the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane-scale speed."
Experts say the door was only able to open because of the plane's altitude.
The plane, an Airbus A321-200, was about 700 feet above the ground as it prepared to land at Daegu International Airport in South Korea, Transport Ministry officials said. At cruising altitude, experts say, the pressure in the plane would have made it impossible to open the exit door.
Asiana Airlines said in a statement that it has since stopped selling emergency exit seats on certain planes as a safety precaution.
Twelve passengers on board were taken to the hospital for respiratory issues and other minor symptoms after the flight landed following the May 26 incident. They've since all been released.
Police said the suspect, who was arrested Sunday and faces up to 10 years in prison for violating aviation security laws, is "mentally struggling." During preliminary questioning, the 33-year-old told police he felt like was suffocating and wanted to get off the plane quickly. The suspect had recently lost a job and was under stress when the incident occurred, according to police.
There were 194 people on board the aircraft, including a group of teenage athletes on their way to a track and field competition, according to Asiana Airlines.
Ahead of his court appearance, the suspect told reporters, "I'm really sorry to the kids."
(NEW YORK) -- Environmental officials in Italy said they have solved the mystery of what turned the waterways in the historic Venice Canal a bright shade of green.
Venice residents reported on Sunday that the waters in the canal stretching to the Rialto Bridgehad had transformed to a fluorescent green color, prompting a police investigation.
Environmental authorities conducted chemical and biological tests on the water and discovered the bright green color was the result of the presence of fluorescein, a non-toxic substance used to test wastewater networks, according to a press release by the Regional Agency for Environmental Prevention and Protection of Veneto.
Images circulating on social media showed the famous canal, lined with restaurants and onlooking tourists, in a shade of emerald. Water taxis, gondolas and water buses appeared to continue as business as usual, despite the unusual tint of the canal.
The water was so green it appeared to be a similar hue to the Chicago River during the annual tradition of dying the waterway green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
The origin of the substance was not revealed. Further tests are expected this week, officials said.
Investigators initially believed the green canal could be another stunt by environmental activists.
Activists from Italian environmental group Ultima Generazione, which translates to "Last Generation," poured black liquid into the Trevi Fountain in Rome on May 21, to protest the use of fossil fuels. Two days later, a pair of protesters from Last Generation smeared themselves with mud outside the Senate building in Rome to remind the public of the dangers of flooding in the country linked to climate change.
The demonstration is one of the latest acts of eco-vandalism that activists are engaging in to garner attention to the causes they support by targeting landmarks and priceless works of art all over the world.
Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at the National Gallery in London, a Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, and the famous "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting at the Mauritshuis museum in The Netherlands have all been targets of eco-vandalism in the past year. Modes of demonstration have included throwing foods like tomato soup and mashed potatoes and gluing hands to the frames of paintings.
The trend is from the desperation of what the planet will look like in the future, experts in climate and environmental psychology told ABC News.
(CHINA) -- A Chinese J-16 jet fighter flew directly in front of an American surveillance plane flying in international airspace over the South China Sea last Friday, forcing the U.S. Air Force plane to fly through the fighter's wake turbulence and causing the U.S. aircraft to shake.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command labeled the Chinese intercept as "unprofessional" and "an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" and released a video taken from inside the American plane's cockpit that captured the incident.
"A People's Republic of China J-16 fighter pilot performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver during the intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, May 26, 2023," said a statement from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
Here is video of the incident where the J-16 flew in front of the RC-135 at a distance of 400 feet, the US plane then flew through its wake -- you can see the plane bounce. pic.twitter.com/rRdGfDSR1x
"The PRC pilot flew directly in front of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the U.S. aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence," said the statement. "The RC-135 was conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law."
The video released by INDOPACOM captured the moment that the Chinese fighter streaked across the American plane's flight path at what a U.S. official said was a distance of 400 feet.
Taken from inside the RC-135's cockpit, presumably by a crew member, the video also captured the moment when the reconnaissance aircraft flew through the wake turbulence causing the aircraft to shake.
American aircraft and ship transiting in the international airspace and waters in the South China Sea are routinely harassed by Chinese ships and aircraft. The American aircraft and warships transit through the region regularly to counter China's broad territorial maritime claims.
The American statement reaffirmed that the "The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force will continue to fly in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law."
"We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law," it added.
A senior U.S. defense official speaking Tuesday about Friday's incident to a small group of reporters expressed the belief that the Chinese harassment is coordinated and increasing in frequency.
"We don't believe it's done by pilots operating independently," said the official. "We believe it's part of a wider pattern we see in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere."
The last such incident occurred on Dec. 21, 2022, when a PLA J-11 fighter pilot "performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air force RC-135," according to INDO-PACOM.
The official noted that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other U.S. officials have publicly voiced concern over what they say is an increase in unsafe incidents by Chinese military assets that could have the potential to create an unsafe incident or miscalculation.
The senior defense official said the U.S. would express its concerns about Friday's incident "through the appropriate, established diplomatic and military channels."
Austin is headed to Asia this week for meetings with regional defense leaders but he will not meet with his Chinese counterpart as China declined a U.S. offer for a meeting at an international security conference in Singapore.
The senior defense official said the timing of the U.S. military's release of the video was not tied to that meeting but was instead "subject to the U.S. military declassification process and U.S. diplomatic communication process."
(LONDON) -- Several artisanal miners are feared trapped in an underground gold mine shaft in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
Several illegal miners have reportedly entered AngloGold Ltd.'s Obuasi Mines in the Anwiam, Ashanti Region, searching for gold deposits. However, the miners found themselves unable to exit after the entrances were shut, officials said.
AngloGold Ashanti Ghana told ABC News it is aware of reports alleging that illegal miners may have been trapped in the northern areas of its mine.
"Obuasi Gold Mine's management team has notified the relevant authorities and public security services and is working closely with them," a statement from the company said.
Several illegal miners are reported to have been in the mine, according to local reports, with devastated family members of the miners telling local media that they have been unable to reach them for four days.
AngloGold tells ABC that seven illegal miners have thus far exited the mine and are currently in the custody of the Ghana Police Service.
"Intrusion of illegal miners into underground areas remains a significantly dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working alongside authorities to ensure that only authorized personnel and contractors can access underground work areas," the company said in a statement.
AngloGold has denied any of the illegal miners are trapped or "confined in any way," saying the main exit ramp -- where security and police remain -- is open.
"Unauthorised persons underground are able to exit on foot, via the existing ramp, through the main access of this mining area," AngloGold's statement said.
AngloGold Ltd. Is the world's fourth-largest gold producer. According to AngloGold, its Obuasi underground mine operation runs to a depth of 1,500 meters at its deepest point. It has produced 250koz of gold, with a workforce of 4,403 people, including contractors.
Studies have found that rising unemployment coupled with the lucrativeness of mining has led to an upsurge in miners, many of whom operate illegally as a means to earn a living. Gold mining is a lucrative revenue source for corporations and small-scale and artisanal miners alike. The artisanal and small-scale mining sector is estimated to employ up to 1 million people in Ghana.
According to Ghana's Minerals and Mining Act, persons partaking in small-scale mining are required to obtain a license, however regulation of small-scale mining in Africa's top gold-producing nation has been mostly unsuccessful, with research finding that over 85% of small-scale mining still occurs illegally. Poor regulation has also led to the occurrence of human rights violations in Ghana's artisanal and small-scale mining trade such as child labor, according to the Human Rights Watch.
"Intrusion of illegal miners into underground areas remains a significantly dangerous activity and AngloGold Ashanti Ghana is working alongside authorities to ensure that only authorized mine personnel and contractors can access underground work areas," AngloGold told ABC News.
ABC News reached out to Ghana's Mineral Commission, who confirmed that incident was ongoing, but declined to comment further.
(LONDON) -- Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Court on Tuesday opened the trial of Niloofar Hamedi, the first journalist in Iran who reported on Mahsa Amini's death in police custody in September.
Hamedi's report came ahead of spiraling mass protests across the country, posing one of the biggest threats against the Islamic regime in over four decades. She published a photo of Amini's family in the hospital hallway hugging and mourning after hearing the news of their daughter's passing. She was arrested a few days later on Sept. 22.
Hamedi faces charges including "Collaborating with the hostile government of the United States" and "conspiring to commit crimes against national security and propagandistic activity against the system," Masoud Setayeshi, judiciary spokesperson, said on April 26.
Amini, 22, was on a trip to Tehran last September when the hijab police, called the "morality police," arrested her for not wearing an outfit that fully matched the Sharia-based compulsory hijab laws of the country. She was taken into custody only to be announced dead at a hospital three days later, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran Human Rights reported that at least 537 people were killed in the ensuing protests and at least 22,000 people were arrested as IRNA confirmed.
Hamedi's hearing on Tuesday was "private," and family members were not allowed, her husband, Mohammad Hassan Ajurlou, tweeted.
"Niloofar denied all the accusations and emphasized that she performed her duties as a journalist within the framework of the law and did not take any action against Iran's security," he wrote, adding that Hamedi's lawyers did not get a chance to defend her.
Another journalist, Elaheh Mohammadi, faces the same accusations as Hamedi for covering Amini's funeral in Saqez, in northwestern Iran. Mohammadi's trial opened on Monday. The two journalists have been in jail for over eight months.
One of Mohammadi's lawyers, Shahab Mirlohi, listed unlawful treatment of his client during her arrest and the hearing process, including keeping her in solitary confinement for long periods of time and assigning the country's revolutionary court for the hearing.
"In our opinion, the Revolutionary Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear this case, and the case should be heard publicly in a competent court (Criminal Court 1) with the presence of a jury," Mirlohi said in an interview with the Iranian daily Hammihan Monday.
"No matter how many times we requested a chance to inform the court of our explanations, unfortunately, we were not granted any chance," he added.
Talking about the atmosphere outside of the court building, one of Hamedi's friends who was there told ABC News that the guards would not allow people to stay for more than a short time around the hearing time.
The friend, who did not want to share her name for security reasons, added that being upon being taken back to the prison, Hamedi managed to sneak a look outside and wave for her friends from behind the dark windows of the black Hyundai she was in.
The continuation of two journalists' hearing proceedings was postponed to the next sessions, the date of which has not yet been announced.
(LONDON) -- Several drones struck Moscow early on Tuesday, damaging residential buildings in the Russian capital, the mayor said.
The pre-dawn attack "caused minor damage to several buildings" in a residential area, according to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Some residents were evacuated from their apartments due to "safety reasons" as first responders surveyed the damage, Sobyanin said.
"All municipal emergency services are currently at the scene of the incident," the mayor wrote on his official Telegram channel. "They will find out the circumstances of what happened."
It's believed to be the first major drone strike on a residential area of Moscow.
No one was seriously injured in the attack, according to Sobyanin. Two people sought and received medical attention on site for unspecified injures but did not require hospitalization, the mayor said.
Russian emergency services told state news agency TASS that drone-like fragments were found around at least one of the buildings and that apartment windows were shattered on several floors.
Eight drones targeted Moscow, five of which were shot down while the other three were jammed, causing them to veer off course, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The rare attack came as Russia continues to wage war in neighboring Ukraine. The Russian defense ministry called Tuesday's drone strike a "terrorist attack" by the "Kyiv regime" and said Moscow will react "as harshly as possible to the actions of Ukrainian militants."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday's drone attack on Moscow was Kyiv's retaliation against the effective Russian strikes "on a decision-making center" on Sunday.
On May 3, Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones. Russia later blamed the United States for the attack, a claim rejected by Washington.
Meanwhile, in recent days, Russia has launched a series of drone and missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. At around 2 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Kyiv residents once again awoke to the sound of air raid sirens as dozens of Russian drones targeted the city for a third straight day.
Most of the drones were intercepted and shot down, but the fallen debris sparked fires that engulfed several cars, houses and residential buildings, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. At least one person was killed and 33 others were injured.
"If the Russians can make Kyiv a nightmare, why do the people of Moscow rest?" Klitschko said in a televised address on Tuesday.
(NEW YORK) -- Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, has been severely beaten in Peruvian prison, his lawyer told ABC News on Monday.
Van der Sloot is awaiting extradition to the U.S. on extortion and wire fraud charges stemming from an accusation that he tried to profit from his connection to the Holloway case.
The Dutch citizen has been serving a 28-year sentence in Peru for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores.
Van der Sloot's Peruvian attorney, Maximo Altez, said he doesn't believe the beating was related to the upcoming extradition. It may, however, be connected to gang rules inside of the Challapalca Prison, where he's being held, Altez said.
Van der Sloot is currently in the prison's medical aisle, Altez said, adding that he's asking the Peruvian Justice Ministry to transfer him to another prison as soon as possible.
Holloway, 18, went missing in May 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba with her Alabama high school classmates. She was last seen driving off with a group of young men, including van der Sloot, then 17.
Van der Sloot, who was identified as a suspect and detained but ultimately released, was indicted by an Alabama federal grand jury in 2010 for allegedly trying to extort Holloway's family.
Federal prosecutors alleged that in March 2010 van der Sloot contacted Holloway's mom, Beth Holloway, through her lawyer and claimed he would reveal the location of the teen's body in exchange for $250,000, with $25,000 paid up-front. During a recorded sting operation, Beth Holloway's attorney, John Q. Kelly, met with van der Sloot in an Aruba hotel, giving him $10,000 in cash as Beth Holloway wired $15,000 to van der Sloot's bank account, according to prosecutors.
Then van der Sloot allegedly changed his story about the night he had been with Natalee Holloway, prosecutors said. Van der Sloot claimed he had picked her up but that she had demanded to be put down, so he threw her to the ground. He said her head hit a rock and she was killed instantly by the impact, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said van der Sloot then took Kelly to a house and claimed that his father, who had since died, buried Natalee Holloway's body in the building's foundation.
Kelly later emailed Van der Sloot, saying the information he had provided was "worthless," according to prosecutors. Within days, van der Sloot left Aruba for Peru.
Earlier this month the Peruvian government issued an executive order accepting a request by U.S. authorities for a temporary extradition. An extradition date has not been set.
ABC News' Morgan Winsor, Emily Shapiro and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.
(LONDON) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world's harshest anti-LGBTQ bills into law on Monday.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, which was introduced in Uganda's Parliament in early March, calls for the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which is defined as cases of same-sex relations involving people who are HIV positive as well as with minors and other categories of vulnerable people. Anyone else who engages in gay sex could face life imprisonment if convicted, while anyone caught trying to have same-sex relations could face up to 10 years in prison.
Ugandan Parliament Speaker Anita Annet Among was the first to announce on Twitter that the president had signed the bill into law, saying Museveni had "answered the cries of our people."
"I thank His Excellency, the president, for his steadfast action in the interest of Uganda," Among tweeted. "With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country."
An earlier draft of the legislation also criminalized "the offence of homosexuality," meaning anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or "any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female" may be subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years if convicted. Lawmakers passed that version of the bill in late March after several readings and hours of debate. The proposed legislation was then sent to the president, who subsequently returned the bill to Parliament in April, asking for changes that would differentiate between identifying as LGBTQ and actually engaging in homosexual acts amid outcries from human rights groups and Western governments. Lawmakers passed an amended version of the bill in early May that does not criminalize those who identify as LGBTQ.
Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, as in over 30 of Africa's 54 countries. It was first criminalized in the East African nation under colonial laws, but there had never been a conviction for consensual same-sex sexual activity since independence from Britain in 1962.
Human rights advocates had said they plan to challenge the legislation in court if it's signed into law.
Prior to the bill's signing, members of Uganda's LGBTQ community reported being on the end of increasing discrimination and violence. Many said they are worried about their personal liberties and safety.
"There are no words to describe the feeling of being persecuted by everyone around you, just for being yourself, for being who you are," Atuhaire, a Kampala-based member of Uganda's LGBTQ community, told ABC News in March, using only their first name to protect their personal safety.
"The vitriol and we receive daily on social media has always been vicious, but nothing like the last few months," Grace, a Ugandan LGBTQ activist, also told ABC News in March.
Nadine El-Bawab, Tanya Stukalova, and Yulia Drozd, ABC News
(BELGOROD, Russia) -- At least two people have died in strikes on Russian territory as Russia reported more attacks on Saturday, with drones crashing in its western regions and areas on the border with Ukraine coming under shelling, according to Russian officials.
Russia's Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine came under multiple rounds of shelling, killing one person, according to its governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.
In the neighboring Kursk region, which also borders Ukraine, one person was killed by cross-border mortar fire, Kursk Gov. Roman Starovoit said.
Two drones attacked an oil company's administrative building in Russia's western Pskov region that borders Belarus, Latvia and Estonia, Pskov Gov. Mikhail Vedernikov reported Saturday.
Vedernikov said the building was damaged as the result of an explosion.
Another drone went down in the Tver region about 150 kilometers, or 90 miles, north of Moscow, according to local authorities.
Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their offensive operations, but the pace of the attacks decreased, according to Ukrainian officials.
"Yesterday and today there have not been any active battles – neither in the city nor on the flanks," Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram.
She added that Moscow’s troops were shelling the outskirts and approaches to Bakhmut.
"The decrease in the enemy’s offensive activity is due to the fact that troops are being replaced and regrouped," Maliar said. "The enemy is trying to strengthen its own capabilities."
According to Maliar, Ukrainian troops "firmly hold" the heights overlooking Bakhmut from the north and south, as well as a portion of the outskirts, but have not advanced during the past two days to focus on "other tasks."
(KUWAIT CITY) -- An American soldier was killed in a non-combat rollover accident in Kuwait, U.S. officials said late Friday.
Spc. Jayson Reed Haven, 20, of Aiken, South Carolina, died from a rollover accident that occurred in a non-combat situation on Thursday at Camp Buehring in the northwestern desert of Kuwait, about 20 miles from the southern border of Iraq.
The fatal incident remains under investigation, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense. Further details were not immediately available.
The news of Haven's death came just days before Memorial Day, a federal holiday for honoring and mourning those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
"There are no words that can adequately express how deeply saddened I am at the loss of one of our own," Maj. Gen. Van McCarty told Haven's hometown newspaper, the Aiken Standard. "SPC Jayson R. Haven was more than just a member of the South Carolina National Guard; he was family."
Haven, a machine gunner, had received multiple medals and awards during his service with the South Carolina National Guard. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based in Charleston. He initially joined the U.S. Army in 2020, according to the Aiken Standard.
Haven was deployed to Kuwait to support Operation Spartan Shield, an effort to strengthen U.S. defensive relationships throughout Southwest Asia, according to the Army.
Vehicle accidents involving rollovers are a leading cause of death for the U.S. military.
While rollovers only account for a quarter of vehicle accidents, they contribute to 63% of accidents involving a death between 2010 and 2019, according to a 2021 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
That same report found that the military did not take sufficient action during that time frame to reduce the often preventable accidents, which accounted for 123 deaths for the Army and Marines between 2010 and 2019.
(NASSAU, Bahamas) -- A recent high school graduate from Louisiana is missing after going overboard while on a trip to the Bahamas, school officials said.
Cameron Robbins, who attended University Laboratory School in Baton Rouge, was on a trip with a group of students when he went overboard on Wednesday night, according to school officials.
"As of this interview right now he has not been located," Kevin George, director of the Laboratory School, told ABC Baton Rouge affiliate WBRZ midday Thursday.
The incident occurred around 9:40 p.m. local time near the area of Athol Island, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The 18-year-old "reportedly jumped from a pleasure vessel," the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement.
The United States Coast Guard said Thursday that it was assisting with search efforts for a missing U.S. citizen "believed to have fallen overboard from a sunset cruise near Nassau" on Wednesday. A Coast Guard spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that the search was for Robbins.
The Coast Guard provided air assistance in the search and rescue mission, which was being led by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Estrada. But on Friday evening, the Coast Guard was informed by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force that they were suspending the "active search efforts" for Robbins "pending further developments" and were no longer requesting assistance from the Coast Guard after notifying Robbins family, according to Lt. Cmdr. John W. Beal.
"We offer our sincerest condolences to Cameron Robbins’ family and friends," Beal said in a statement.
The Bahamas vacation was not a school-sanctioned trip but included students from several high schools in the area, including between 10 and 15 students from the Laboratory School, George said.
The school just held its graduation on Sunday.
George described Robbins as a "great kid" and athlete who had been with the school for 13 years, since the start of his education.
"Just one of those kids that you're so proud of once they cross the stage," George said.
Students held a prayer circle for Robbins on Thursday morning following news that he was reported missing, holding hands outside the Laboratory School, located on the main campus of Louisiana State University.
"It's a tight-knit family," George said. "The kids reached out to us wanting to know, could they do a prayer circle. Obviously we agreed. We really appreciated their leadership in this trying time."
Robbins has a sister who is a junior at the school, according to George, who said he spoke to their father on Thursday morning.
"It's just a really emotional time for us right now," George said. "Just trying to send up our prayers and give our support."
"Let's continue to pray and pray that we find Cameron safe and sound," he added.
Tom Soufi Burridge, Ibtissem Guenfoud, Oleksiy Pshemyskiy, and Kuba Kaminski, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- Earlier this week, an unknown number of heavily armed soldiers stormed over Ukraine’s north-eastern border with Russia.
At around the same time, Russian media reported explosions inside Belgorod. Russian officials later said Ukrainian artillery was used to fire into Belgorod.
The official version of events from the Ukrainian side is that only Russian nationals, belonging to two far-right paramilitary groups, were involved in the assault.
So far there is no evidence to contradict that claim.
The two paramilitary groups involved are the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Free Russia Legion. They are made up of Russian nationals who have been fighting in Ukraine alongside the Ukrainian military since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
It is unclear whether the Ukrainian-backed operation in that region is completely over.
On Thursday, the governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, claimed that the Ukrainian military was shelling areas inside Belgorod and that Russian air defense had been active in a district of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine.
There have been other reports of explosions and drone attacks in the Russian region.
Eyewitness testimony from local civilians, videos circulating online and images filmed by independent media in Belgorod back some of those reports up.
The Ukrainian-backed far-right paramilitary groups who claimed responsibility for the operation in Belgorod also alleged, without providing details, that their mission was "still ongoing."
Denis Kapustin, the leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps, told reporters that "Phase One" of the operation had ended. He also claimed that "Phase Two" would begin "in a couple of days."
The Russian authorities took the threat seriously and launched a counterterrorism operation in the border region.
Some local residents were also evacuated from settlements close to the border where the fighting was taking place.
The level of strategic military success achieved by the Ukrainian-backed mission in Belgorod is unclear.
On Wednesday Kapustin claimed his men had taken control of roughly 16 square miles of territory inside Russia.
He also claimed two of his fighters had been killed in the raid. Russian officials said dozens of "terrorists" had been killed.
None of these figures can be independently verified.
Publicly, Ukraine has tried to distance itself from the execution of the operation in Belgorod, however, there is mounting evidence that Ukraine was involved.
A commander for the Free Russia Legion, who goes by the military callsign of "Cesar," told reporters on Wednesday that armored vehicles, "light weaponry" and "artillery weapons" used in the operation were supplied by Ukraine.
Speaking at the same event in northern Ukraine, Kapustin drew a distinction between the actions of his men in Ukraine and the operation on the other side of the border in Belgorod.
"Everything we do within the state borders of Ukraine we obviously coordinate with the Ukrainian military. Everything we do, every decision we make beyond the border (of Ukraine) is our decision," he claimed in a response to a question from ABC News.
Kapustin told reporters that his men had been "encouraged" by the Ukrainian military.
"They wished us good luck," he said.
Despite trying to distance themselves from the actual military operation in Russia, Ukrainian officials have celebrated what has been happening on social media and have mocked the Russian authorities for appearing to have lost control of an area near the border for an extended period of time.
In some ways, the apparent tactics of Ukraine are reminiscent of the Kremlin’s modus operandi in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas during a war which began in the spring of 2014.
Back then, Russia armed and supported Ukrainian separatists but falsely denied any involvement.
Aleksey Baranovsky, a Russian dissident who is part of the Political Center of Russian Armed Opposition, suggested to ABC News that the Kremlin was now receiving a dose of its own medicine.
"This game works both ways," said Baranovsky, whose organization is a political affiliate of the paramilitary groups which conducted the operation in Belgorod.
"Putin thought that he was the only one to play this game," he said. "One should respond to aggression with cunning. And Ukraine has been doing that in a smart way, as have the Russian volunteers."
Far right links
Fighters from the two paramilitary groups were also questioned by reporters on Wednesday about their neo-Nazi and white supremacist links.
Kapustin said his group had never hidden the fact it was a far-right organization.
"We are conservative traditionalist right wingers. I don’t care what [the Russian authorities] call us. Should we care how our enemy insults us?" he said.
The spokesman of the Russian Volunteer Corps claimed his group was "more centrist" than the Russian Volunteer Corps.
Both groups emphasized that their fight against Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia gave them a common cause with Ukraine.
According to Kapustin, the Ukrainian military and his group are "brothers in arms."
The timing of the operation is noteworthy, coming as Ukrainian officials promise a major counteroffensive "soon."