• iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A plane crashed into a building after it was blown away from its parking area by strong winds at Malta International Airport Wednesday evening, the airport said today. The private plane, propelled by intense and widespread winds, crashed into a building, a lawyer for the Polidano Group, the construction company that owns the building, told ABC News. No injuries were reported, according to Malta International Airport. After breaking loose, the empty jet, a Dassualt Falcon 7X, was blown off the runway and down a slope, crashing through a perimeter fence before it smashed into a concrete bricks manufactuiring plant belonging to Polidano, which has offices near the airport, according to the firm’s lawyer. “It seems that the brake holding the plane broke down and the plane was blown off from where it was parked, into a street, crashing into a building belonging to Polidano Group located opposite the runway,” the attorney, Jean Paul Sammut, told ABC News by phone from Malta. “The building is unsafe for the time being,” Sammut said. “The full extent of the damage will not be known until the debris is removed.” Malta’s Bureau for Air Accident Investigation opened an inquiry into the incident, Malta International Airport said.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Tehran police announced Thursday they will no longer arrest women for failing to observe Islamic dress code. The dress code has been in place since the 1979 revolution. "Those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them." Tehran police chief Gen. Hossein Rahimi was quoted as saying by the reformist daily Sharq.Violators of the dress code will be made to attend classes given by police and repeat offenders could still be subject to legal action. The dress code still remains outside the capital.women in Iran have been forced t cover their hair and wear long, loose garments for nearly 40 years. More liberal-minded woman have pushed the boundaries of the official dress code. Men can also be detained by Iran's morality police if they are seen going shirtless or wearing shorts. Iran's morality police— similar to Saudi Arabia's religious police— detain violators and escort them to a police van. Their families are then called to bring the detainee a change of clothes. The violator is then required to sign a form that they will not commit the offense again.Police in Tehran announced plans to deploy 7,000 male and female officers for a new plainclothes division to monitor public morality and enforce the dress code, last year.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, has killed at least 40 people and injured more than 30 on Thursday.Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, confirmed the attack in west Kabul, the capital and largest city in Afghanistan. An explosion and attack took place at a Shia cultural center where many cultural activists were attending an event.The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack. Kabul has seen an increase in attacks on Shia mosques or cultural centers by ISIS members.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise appearance in Afghanistan on Dec. 21 to rally troops stationed in Kabul. Pence reiterated U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan, saying the U.S. was "here to see this through.""It's because of all of you that we're safe. It's because of you that we're free. It's because of you that freedom has a future in Afghanistan and America and all across the wider world," Pence said.The U.S. has about 15,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Yinming/VCG/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- A giant dog statue that looks curiously like President Donald Trump has been placed outside a shopping mall in China, marking the upcoming "Year of the Dog" in the Chinese zodiac.Sitting in the center of Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province in northern China, the 22-foot statue has golden eyebrows and hair, some of which is flipped up in the front, as well as a red collar and an index finger pointed toward the sky. A smaller version has been installed inside the mall.While the statue has attracted attention on social media, a staff member at the mall told ABC News that it was not intended to look like Trump.Many Chinese media outlets, including the state-run Global Times, called the statue the “Trump Zodiac Dog."The mall, Fashion Walk, posted on social media that the dog statue was nicknamed “Meng Chuang,” with “Meng” meaning “cute” and “Chuang” pronounced similarly to “Trump” without a "p."Last year, the same mall featured a rooster statue that seemed to resemble Trump to mark the Year of the Rooster. It hasn't been removed, according to posts on Chinese social media.The Year of the Dog starts on Feb. 16, 2018. Trump was born in 1946 -- another Year of the Dog.According to a mall employee, an in-house mall designer came up with the idea of the dog statue. The designer did not reply to requests for comment from ABC News.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Russia) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday an explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg Wednesday was a "terrorist attack."Putin made the comments at an award ceremony in Moscow for Russian military members who fought in Syria.Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee of Russia, told Interfax that an improvised device containing the equivalent of 200 grams of TNT detonated in one of the port city's supermarkets. The device included "lethal fragments" to increase casualties, the Russian Investigative Committee said.Russian authorities on Wednesday had been hesitant to classify the blast, which injured 13 people, as terrorism. Eight people remain in the hospital, with five of them in "moderately grave condition," according to authorities.Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK) said the explosion occurred at 6:45 p.m. local time in a customer locker area at the city's Perekrestok supermarket.Authorities said the suspect was caught on surveillance video leaving a backpack at the market's coat check.State news agency TASS, citing Alexander Klaus, head of the Investigative Committee's St. Petersburg office, initially reported that 10 people had been hospitalized."The wounded people’s lives are not in danger," Klaus apparently told reporters at the scene.In the wake of the explosion, Interfax said the Investigative Committee's St. Petersburg office has opened a criminal investigation into the attempted killing of two or more people.It was just 10 days ago that Putin said he had spoken to President Donald Trump and thanked him for a CIA tip which had stopped a series of bombings in St. Petersburg.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the collapse of the ISIS caliphate in 2017, what's left of the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria is on the run, with some fighters moving west toward Damascus into Syrian regime-controlled territory and away from where the U.S.-led coalition will work to defeat them. A two-star British general in the coalition's war against ISIS confirmed the "movement of limited numbers of ISIS militants westwards," but said the U.S.-led coalition won't pursue them because the area is operated by the regime. "The coalition will remain committed to the mission in Syria until ISIS no longer poses a threat and a [United Nations]-backed peace process is implemented to ensure lasting stability in the country," British Army Major Gen. Felix Gedney, deputy commander of strategy and support for the coalition, told reporters during a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. But he later clarified the coalition would only defeat ISIS "in areas controlled by partner forces," leaving the Syrian regime and their Russian backers to oust the ISIS fighters that have moved west. Gedney, as well as U.S. military leadership, have long expressed doubt in the regime's desire and ability to fight ISIS. "They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory, showing that the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat [ISIS] within their borders," Gedney said Wednesday. The coalition dealt a significant blow to ISIS in 2017, liberating 60,000 square kilometers of land once claimed by the terrorist group, which ruled large swaths of Iraq and Syria since 2014. The coalition estimates only about 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in that area. Last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared ISIS had been "crushed." President Trump went even further, saying "we've won" in Syria and Iraq. "I would say that we've had a very successful 2017 in the military campaign," Gedney said. "We haven't created a win; we've created an opportunity."
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