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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An official from the U.S. Department of Defense told ABC News Tuesday that the North Korean satellite that had been tumbling in orbit “appears to have been stabilized.”

The satellite is believed to be equipped with small rockets that seem to have corrected the satellite’s position in orbit.

The North Koreans have described the satellite as an earth observation satellite which would mean it would have some imagery capability.

If that’s the case, then it is likely of rudimentary low resolution.  It’s unclear if the satellite is transmitting signals yet.

The satellite is in a polar orbit, so it can cover most of the earth in a day.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Moscow residents woke up Tuesday morning to scenes of startling destruction here, after the city's government unleashed 700 bulldozers overnight to destroy 100 makeshift shops across the city center, according to officials.

The shops, a mixture of outdoor kiosks and more permanent structures, were flattened, some still with furniture inside and the lights still on. Piles of twisted metal and wreckage were left behind.

A feature of Moscow's urban landscape since Communism fell, the shops sold everything from eyeglasses and underwear to Kalashnikov-shaped vodka decanters. In recent years, many had evolved into larger structures, housing kebab shops, cafes and cellphone dealers.

The mayor's office believes the stalls are a throwback to a more anarchic time and wanted to raze them as part of an effort to bolster the Russian capital's image as a modern and sophisticated city.

Authorities had said the kiosks were built illegally, without planning permission. But the official reason for the clearing was that the structures — built mostly around subway stations — posed a safety threat to the system's communications.

"It's barbarism," said Irina Karaseva, 54, a radio editor standing next to a seven-foot pile of rubble. "They should not have done it this way."

Alina Bibisheva, an urban design specialist who studied the kiosks in a research paper for Moscow's Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, said "Normally you don't do it in the night, with the lights on and people inside."

The kiosks' owners had been ordered to dismantle the structures themselves after a ruling by the government a year ago, but most ignored the order. At the Chistiye Prudi subway station in central Moscow, some of the shops were still serving food when the bulldozers arrived.

Those working there have now lost their livelihoods and many will appeal for compensation, claiming they had the appropriate permission from the city. But officials have said no compensation will be offered.

"We've been here 25 years," said Larisa, who declined to provide her last name, sitting in her newspaper stand, which had been spared the night's leveling. "We're also illegal. They'll pull us down too."

Moscow has changed rapidly in the past five years, with huge areas undergoing restoration — stylish new parks and pedestrian zones have appeared, as well as vast new shopping malls. Some saw the removal of the kiosks as a positive continuation of this trend.

"There wasn't any need for them — they blocked up the entrance to the subway," said Olga Kosyanchuk, a 25-year-old painter. "We need to pull them down as quickly as possible."

But Zoya Baranova, 77, a local pensioner who walked by a row of demolished kiosks, was more sympathetic. "I feel sorry for the people who worked here. [But] it'll be clean and beautiful."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top U.S. leaders laid out the major worldwide threats facing the United States at Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing -- including homegrown terrorism and North Korea's nuclear program.

"It's a very accurate litany of doom," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) during the testimony by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, and Marine Corps Lt. General Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Here are some of the highlights:

Terrorism in the US: Stewart cautioned against homegrown threats, saying, "ISIL will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016." In his written statement, Clapper similarly warned that “the perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America, such as those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, might motivate others to replicate opportunistic attacks with little or no warning, diminishing our ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness.” He said that U.S.-based homegrown violent extremists pose "the most significant Sunni terrorist threat to the US homeland in 2016."

Taking Back Mosul: Stewart said he was not optimistic about taking Mosul from ISIS in the near term, saying it's unlike to happen in the next year. "We may be able to begin the campaign, do some isolation operations around Mosul," he said. "But securing or taking Mosul is an extensive operation and not something I see in the next year or so." Stewart also mentioned there is still work to be done to secure Ramadi.

North Korean Nuclear Power: Clapper said North Korea has expanded their Yongbyon nuclear facility not far from the capital of Pyongyang. “We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor," he said. "We further assess that North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months." On Saturday, North Korea successfully launched a long-range missile, apparently into space.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(BAD AIBLING, Germany) —Two morning commuter trains have collided in Bad Aibling in southern Germany, killing ten people and injuring more than 100 others, police said.

The train manufacturer, Meridian, released a statement in German, saying two trains collided just after 7 a.m. Tuesday local time.

In a news conference, German Transport minister Alexander Dobrindt told reporters, "it's a shocking sight how the two trains collided and the one has smashed into the other."

There is no detail on the condition of the two train operators.

"They must have hit each other at a high speed. On that line 120 kilometers per hour is allowed," Dobrindt said of a speed equal to about 74 mph.

"The crash happened on a curve so we have to assume the drivers didn't see each other and didn't brake."

He added, "It's a heavy point in the history of German train travel, one of the worst accidents of the past years."

"We have an automatic security system that should prevent trains colliding with a forced brake if two trains are on the same rails."

Bernd Rosenbusch, managing director of the Bavarian Oberland Bahn GmbH, which operates the trains, said "the accident was a huge shock to us. We do everything to help travelers, families and employees,"

Technical director Fabian Amini said, "We were quickly on the scene and were able to get an idea of the serious collision. We thank the emergency services and employees who have provided assistance as quickly.”

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeted, "Quite bad news from #Bad Aibling. Our thoughts are with the victims injured. Thanks to rescuers."

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW DELHI) -- Scientists are investigating a man's death after government officials initially said that he was killed by an explosion caused by a meteorite.

The incident happened in the Indian district of Vellore on Saturday. One man was killed and three others were injured, according to The Times of India.

According to the paper, chief minister J Jayalalithaa said that the government would compensate the victim's family as well as those who were injured.

"A mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district’s K Pantharappalli village," Jayalalithaa said in a statement, according to The Indian Express.

Local police told The Times of India that officers have investigated the site of the explosion and have not found any traces of explosives.

Photos from the scene reportedly show the site of the explosion, which the paper said measures 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep.

Eyewitnesses claim the crater was caused by a mysterious explosion. Classroom windows and windshields of parked cars and buses shattered from the powerful explosion.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(HOMS, Syria) -- A Syrian couple recently held their wedding photo shoot amid the ruins of war-ravaged Homs, Syria, to prove that love is greater than war.

Photos of the 18-year-old bride, Nada Mehri, and the 27-year-old Syrian army soldier groom, Hassan Youssef, were taken by professional photographer Jafar Meray Friday, according to international news agency Agence France-Presse.

Meray and the newlyweds wanted "to show that life is stronger than death," he told AFP photographer Joseph Eid.

Images of the couple's loving embraces and the bride's white dress made powerful visual statements against the city's abandoned buildings, bullet-ridden walls and gray rubble.

A large portion of Homs, Syria's third largest city, was destroyed over the course of nearly six years, during the civil war between Syrian rebels and government forces.

For many, it is difficult to imagine the fallen city was once dubbed the "capital" of the revolution.
The old part of the city was under siege until last month, when the last of the opposition forces withdrew under the terms of a United Nations cease-fire.

Despite the destruction, several couples from Homs, including a couple who met while working for the U.N. Refugee Agency, have chosen to come back to the ruins for their weddings because the "Old City" is their birthplace and home.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Syrian government has beaten or tortured to death thousands of detainees since the beginning of the civil war there, “horrors” only rivaled by the war crimes of some rebel Islamist groups like ISIS on the other side of the fight, a new United Nations report says.

“In the Syrian Arab Republic, massive and systemized violence – including the killing of detainees in official and makeshift detention centres – has taken place out of sight, far from the battlefield,” says a report from the U.N.’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, published Monday. “The government has committed crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts. Based on the same conduct, war crimes have also been committed.”

The report, which the commission says is based on more than 600 interviews as well as “considerable documentary material,” contains some gruesome details of individual cases.

“In early 2014, a detainee at Sednaya prison (Damascus) was killed after guards entered the cell and subjected him to severe beating, including kicking to the head and vital organs. Other prisoners present were ordered to face the wall while the man was heard screaming,” the report says. “The victim was left vomiting blood. A former cellmate explained how the man asked him to tell his wife and family what happened to him.”

The cellmate reportedly said, “He died. We closed his eyes, wrapped him in a military blanket and read the Quran in our hearts.”

Paulo Pinheiro, the commission’s chair, said stories like the cellmate’s were hardly unique.

“Nearly every surviving detainee has emerged from custody having suffered unimaginable abuses,” he said.

The report also named rebel groups, including terrorist designated organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, as committing similar atrocities in their own “prisons.”

“Jabhat al-Nusra has set up detention facilities in Idlib [in western Syria] where deaths in detention were documented,” the report says. “The terrorist group also conducted mass executions of captured Government soldiers. Both Jabhat Al-Nusra and some anti-Government armed groups have committed the war crimes of murder, cruel treatment, and torture.”

Likewise, ISIS’ crimes in Iraq and Syria have been well-documented.

Last year, ABC News documented alleged abuses perpetrated by Iraqi government forces and pro-Iraqi government militias in Iraq, the evidence of which was available on social media from fighters boasting about the apparent war crimes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Violent clashes erupted overnight in Hong Kong after protesters defended unlicensed food vendors, set up for Chinese New Year celebrations, from being shut down by police.

The night market has become popular over the years, with officials usually turning a blind eye. But police decided to issue tickets this year.

Reports of a crackdown against the hawkers who sell fish balls and other local food delicacies quickly spread on social media along with the hashtag #fishballrevolution.

More than 100 individuals are believed to have taken part and police told reporters Tuesday that 54 were arrested “on suspicion of assaulting and obstructing officers, resisting arrest and public disorder,” despite instructions to disperse.

"The government strongly condemns such violent acts," Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters, adding: "The police will apprehend the mobs and bring them to justice."

The violence, which took place in a working-class neighborhood called Mong Kong, was the worst that the city had experienced since the wave of pro-democracy protests in 2014 known as the #umbrellarevolution.

The vendors' cause resonated with pro-democracy activists because of their concerns that local culture is disappearing as China tightens its hold on the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong’s “Localist” movement activists, who are calling for more autonomy from Beijing, were among those taking part in the protest. The group said on its official Facebook page that its candidate for local council, Edward Leung Tin-kei, had been arrested.

Police later said they did not expect another riot Tuesday when fireworks have been planned, but they will increase the numbers of officers on patrol as a precautionary measure.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(KINGSTON, England) -- British police have expressed their gratitude to a stranger who helped them arrest a suspect.

Officers were on patrol in Kingston, United Kingdom, on Saturday when they were made aware of a report of two males dealing drugs, police said in a statement.

The officers chased one of the suspects through the town center "when they received some unexpected assistance from a member of the public," a police spokesperson wrote on the force's Facebook page.

In a video posted online, a young man is seen running away from police officers when a passerby suddenly trips him. The passerby then walks away with a woman by his side while officers arrest the suspect who fell to the ground. The suspect was not injured, police said.

"The Borough Commander was extremely impressed when he saw the footage and would like to meet the passerby personally to say thanks!" police said.

The video prompted many reactions on social media. One Facebook user, Adam Faust, criticized the man's action, writing: "If you count the speed he's going at and tripping someone with your foot to lose balance he 'could' of smashed his head and been killed."

Another Facebook user, Robert Craig, applauded the man's decision, writing: "It is the right thing for decent people to do." Kingston Police also commented on the thread, saying the individual had applied "reasonable force to assist in the lawful arrest of an offender."

The 17-year-old suspect was arrested "on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs" and is free on bail. He is scheduled to appear in court in April. The other suspect in the case managed to get away.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Courtesy Mueller Family (WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Justice charged the wife of a top ISIS leader on Monday for her role in a “conspiracy” that led to the death of American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was reported killed by the terror group in Syria a year ago.

It was unclear Monday night whether the U.S. was expecting to take custody of Nasrin As'ad Ibrahim, known as "Umm Sayyaf.” American forces had originally captured Sayyaf, who is accused of being the "sole" individual "responsible" for Mueller, in a May 2015 but was handed her over to the Kurdish government in August.

Sayyaf was the wife of ISIS's oil and gas "emir," or chief, Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian who U.S. officials say oversaw the terror group's sales of illicit fossil fuels to fund the ISIS war machine.

Kayla Mueller, 26, of Prescott, Arizona, was a committed humanitarian aid worker captured in Aleppo, Syria, and held for 17 months as a hostage with other Westerners. In the fall of 2014, she was personally selected by ISIS "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be his personal hostage against her will, family and counter-terrorism sources have said.

For several months, Mueller was believed held by the Sayyafs in their homes in Syria and visited by Baghdadi, who repeatedly raped her, her anguished parents Carl and Marsha Mueller said.

"We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government," Marsha Mueller told ABC News in August.

The Justice Department on Monday alleged that Umm Sayyaf has admitted to the FBI that al-Baghdadi “owned” Mueller during her captivity at the Sayyaf compound and "admitted that 'owning' is equivalent to slavery."

Mueller was captured in a vehicle on a road in Aleppo, which the humanitarian medical group Medicines San Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) has said happened while she was traveling with several of their staff, one of whom was an MSF contractor who had asked her to assist him in a trip to an MSF hospital.

The MSF contractor later tried to rescue her by telling ISIS she was his wife -- but Mueller had already told the terrorists holding her that she was not married and feared the consequences of lying to them, another close confidante of Kayla's told ABC News.

Mueller was held captive with, but at times segregated from, a group of American, British and European hostages held at an old oil refinery site south of ISIS's de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.

The U.S. Army’s elite unit Delta Force attempted a rescue mission in the area in July 2014 but the hostages had been moved just days before the counter-terror squad moved in, U.S. officials said.

One by one, the western hostages were beheaded beginning in August on video by ISIS "executioner" Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed "Jihad John." But Kayla Mueller was never shown on video or publicly threatened.

But in February 2015, ISIS claimed she had been accidentally killed by a Jordanian airstrike. U.S. officials denied that there had even been any Jordanian airstrikes that day, and some vowed to find Abu Sayyaf and bring him to justice in a lower Manhattan federal court where many terrorists have been tried and convicted.

That opportunity came for Delta on May 15 in a ground force operation against a house in Syria, the White House said in an announcement afterward. As Sayyaf's guards tried to hide from the American commandos, they all were killed. The Delta operators then killed Abu Sayyaf "when he engaged U.S. forces," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

Umm Sayyaf, his wife, was captured alive and one Yazidi girl was rescued. The wife of the Tunisian senior ISIS leader was grilled for weeks by the FBI-led High Value Interrogation Group and she quickly confirmed that Mueller had been held prisoner in their household for Baghdadi, who had raped her, counter-terrorism sources told ABC News. Some intelligence prior to Umm Sayyaf's interrogation had assessed that Abu Sayyaf held her and had taken the American hostage as his own forced "wife," but it became apparent that he had actually kept her as a captive for his leader.

Last August, the U.S. turned Umm Sayyaf over to the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Interior, the Defense Department announced. "The decision to transfer Umm Sayyaf to the Iraqi government was based on the U.S. government determination that the detainee’s transfer would be appropriate with respect to legal, diplomatic, intelligence, security, and law enforcement considerations," the DOD statement said.

“The charges filed today allege that Umm Sayyaf and others conspired to provide material support to ISIL and that this conspiracy resulted in the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin in a statement Monday. “Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody for her terrorism-related activities. We fully support the Iraqi prosecution of Sayyaf and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding Sayyaf accountable for her crimes. At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad. We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- The North Korean satellite launched this weekend is tumbling in orbit, rendering it useless, just like another one of the country's satellites launched in December, 2012.

A U.S. official told ABC News that while the Unha 3 rocket was able to get its payload into orbit, it has been tumbling ever since. While the North Korean satellite may not work, the U.S. official said North Korea considers the launch to have been a success because the payload reached orbit. That is of most concern, said the official, since the same technology used to get a payload into orbit is the same needed for a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile to reach the continental United States.

The Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been tracking the North Korean satellite as well as a rocket booster stage that has also gone into orbit.

Both objects have been given catalog identification numbers and have been added to U.S. Strategic Command’s satellite catalog on the public website

According to Space Command “The object with NORAD catalog identification number 41332 is KMS-4, the payload (satellite). The object with NORAD catalog identification number 41333 is UNHA 3 R/B, the rocket body.”

“These objects are in a nearly circular orbit, essentially over the poles” at a rotation at a 97.5 degree angle from the Earth's equator.

The tumbling orbit will make the payload re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere faster than a satellite in earth orbit. But that could take some years as JSPOC continues tracking the payload and three debris items from North Korea’s December, 2012 missile launch.

That payload has also been tumbling since its launch and no transmission signals have ever been detected coming from the satellite despite North Korean claims to the contrary.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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SPCA(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- A rabbit in Scotland is looking for a home, but it might need a little more space than just a cage on a table.

The Scottish SPCA center in Glasgow has a 7-month-old continental giant rabbit up for adoption. The rabbit, Atlas, is already about the size of a Westie dog and is still expected to grow, according to a February 8 press release from the Scottish SPCA.

Atlas is not only the same size as a dog, but acts like one too, being “a very friendly rabbit who loves attention and getting cuddles,” Anna O’Donnell, SPCA center manager, said in the press release.

“Atlas is also an inquisitive boy who makes everyone laugh with his mischievous character,” she added.

The center’s Facebook page posted they are looking for someone who could provide the specific needs of Atlas, since he will need more space than the typical rabbit.

“Atlas needs an owner with the knowledge to properly care for him, so ideally someone who has kept a continental giant before,” O’Donnell said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(HONG KONG) -- For much of the next two weeks, millions of Chinese will welcome in the Year of Monkey, which begins Monday, with a cavalcade of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky.

In almost every corner of every city or village in Mainland China, families will light their own firecrackers and boxes of fireworks, with the sounds and flashes of explosions lingering each night into the early hours of the morning.

In the village of Nuanquan, however, which sits on the edge of China’s coal country in Western Hebei province and a five-hour drive from Beijing, there is traditional a pyrotechnic display so unique and dangerous that it is still only found here.

A brave blacksmith, wearing only a wide-brim hat and sheepskin vest for protection, hurls molten iron against the old city wall. When the hot liquid metal, with temperatures of over 2,900 degrees, makes contact with the cold brick, an arc of sparks rains down over the blacksmith like snow.

They call it “DaShuHua” or, literally, “Beating down the tree flowers.”

Nuanquan villagers claim it has been performed for over 500 years by local blacksmiths. It was traditionally only performed once a year on Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the New Year and the unofficial climax of the annual two-week-long festivities. Nowadays, there are a few more opportunities to witness it.

ABC News visited Nuanquan a week before the Lunar New Year and met Sui Jianguo, a 14th generation blacksmith. Sui has been performing “DaShuHua” for more than 25 years and shows off his skills on a new nightly cultural show hoping to draw more tourists to the neglected region.

Sui explained to ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff that DaShuHua started out being the “poor man’s fireworks.” In the past, only the wealthy residents of Nuanquan could afford firecrackers to ring in the New Year.

So the town’s blacksmiths, noticing sparks flew out when they poured on their molten iron, tried throwing it in the air against a wall. The result is still on display every year since.

When asked whether he thought DaShuHua was more beautiful than traditional fireworks, Sui simply said, “It certainly is the most unique.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images(TAINAN, Taiwan) -- A woman was still alive Monday after being buried under debris of one of the collapsed buildings from the earthquake that shook Taiwan two days ago.

Rescuers were able to pull her out to safety, as video footage shows.

Taiwan’s Eastern Broadcasting Corp. was able to get footage of the rescuers’ pulling victims out of the rubble. At least three other people were rescued Monday morning, including an 8-year-old girl, the BBC reported.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan Saturday morning, causing at least two buildings to collapse in the southern city of Tainan. The capital of Taipei had no signs of damage after the quake.

So far, at least 38 people have been killed by the earthquake, according to the BBC. More than 100 others are believed to be buried under the debris.

Dozens have been rescued but people are beginning to lose patience as they wait for information concerning loved ones who are still missing.

Nearby counties -- Kaohsiung and Pingtung -- had their rescue teams help rescue people from the buildings, as well. About 20 counties in Taiwan, including, Taipei, will continue to support Tainan in this tragedy, according to a Feb. 8 news brief from the Tainan City Government.

The Tainan City Government could not be immediately reached by ABC News.

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Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Authorities in Somalia have released video footage from inside Mogadishu’s airport that they say shows a laptop packed with explosives being handed to a passenger before the mid-air explosion that forced a Daallo Airlines flight to make an emergency landing last week.

In the video, reportedly taken by surveillance cameras after security checks, two men can be seen walking together when one of the men hands a laptop case to a third man.

The suspected bomber was sucked out of the airplane after the mid-air explosion left a relatively small hole in the plane, authorities said.

It is still unclear exactly who is responsible for planning the explosion, but authorities are looking into whether the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al Shabab, based in Somalia, may be behind it, and they're not ready to rule out ISIS, sources said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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