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Death Toll in Syrian Conflict Exceeds 220K, Says Human Rights Group

Death Toll in Syrian Conflict Exceeds 220K, Says Human Rights GroupiStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The casualties from the war in Syria continue to mount, and now the death toll for the ongoing conflict has surpassed 220,000, according to a Syrian human rights group. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that among those killed, some 67,000 were civilians. Of those, about 11,000 of the victims of the fighting were children. Violence in Syria began shortly after the March 2011 demonstrations, which then turned into an armed revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Though many have blamed the Syrian president, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is not letting the international community off the hook. "Despite our loss of hope in an international community capable and willing to put an end to the ongoing atrocities in Syria, we in the Syrian Observatory call upon all sides that claim to defend the freedoms of the people and their rights, to take a serious and responsible stance in order to end the bloodshed in Syria amid the increasing violence and the escalating number of casualties," the group said on its website.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Victims of South Korean Ferry Sinking Remembered a Year Later

Victims of South Korean Ferry Sinking Remembered a Year LaterJUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- In South Korea Thursday, grief, sadness and anger filled a memorial site for those who lost their lives in the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry one year ago.It was one of South Korea's most heartbreaking disasters: 304 people died, with nine still missing. Many of the passengers were high school students on a field trip.South Korean President Park Geun-Hye briefly visited the site and promised to raise the remains of the ship as the victims' families have demanded. That process could cost anywhere from $90 million to $180 million. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

More Americans Who Fled Yemen Arrive in Djibouti

More Americans Who Fled Yemen Arrive in DjiboutiiStock/Thinkstock(DJIBOUTI) -- Fifty-nine American citizens docked at the Djibouti Port Thursday -- the largest group yet of American evacuees from Yemen to arrive there, according to the U.S. Embassy.The Indian Navy Vessel carrying 403 people, was sturdier than most boats that arrive from Yemen, but those disembarking recall a harrowing 16-hour trip.“It was terrible!” says Rashad, an American citizen traveling with his wife, Summer, and their two young children.Men were crammed on the upper deck and women below, passengers say.Americans, who made their way down the gang plank first, were handed a bottle of water as they turned in their passports to immigration and U.S. Ambassador Tom Kelly and his staff greeted each and every American citizen off the boat.Assuming the visa process goes smoothly, families told ABC News they’re planning to head stateside, from McLean, Virginia, to Fresno, California. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rogue Wave Sweeps Woman off Ireland Cliff’s Edge

Rogue Wave Sweeps Woman off Ireland Cliff’s EdgeiStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- A woman visiting Ireland’s Aran Islands was saved by a young couple after a giant wave knocked her off a cliff and into the sea.Apu Gupta, 21, from London, was taking video from the cliff’s edge last week when she was knocked 40 feet down onto rocks by the wave.“I tried to run, but it pushed me straight down. It was like being in a waterfall and that probably cushioned the fall,” Gupta told the Irish Times. “I was so scared because I thought the wave was going to come again.”“My ankle was completely smashed and the pain was bad,” Gupta, who was visiting the islands with her mom, told the newspaper.Two other tourists visiting the island saw Gupta’s fall and immediately sprang into action, according to the Times.“We could see her almost being swept out to sea, so I took out my phone to dial 999 but there was no reception,” Seamus McCarthy, a paramedic, told the newspaper.The other tourist, identified by the Times as Fionnuala Quigley, a teacher, ran to the nearest house to get help. The pair, by now aided by others, fashioned a rope out of a jacket and a backpack and lowered it down to Gupta.Gupta tightened the backpack around her waist while her rescuers pulled her up the cliff to safety.“It was still dangerous on the cliff ledge and we sat her down to calm her before getting her all the way to safety,” McCarthy told the Times.Gupta’s fall was captured on camera and posted to YouTube Wednesday.The economics student is now recovering at a local hospital and thanks the good Samaritans for her safe rescue.“Seamus saved my life and the policeman there was also wonderful,” Gupta told the Times. "Everyone was so helpful to me.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Search Area for MH370 to Expand If Plane Not Found

Search Area for MH370 to Expand If Plane Not FoundAn expanded search zone for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is seen in a map released April 16, 2015. (Australian Government handout)(NEW YORK) — Authorities plan to expand the search zone for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 if the plane is not located in the coming months.Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang appeared at a press conference Thursday to discuss the search for the plane, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people on board.No physical evidence has ever been linked to the lost plane.The current search zone in the southern Indian Ocean covers 23,000 square miles -- roughly the size of West Virginia. More than 61 percent of that search zone has been covered so far, the officials said.A search of the current zone should be completed by May.If the plane isn’t found, the search area will be expanded to cover more than 46,000 square miles, the officials said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Islamic State Launches Spring Offensive, Captures Several Iraqi Villages

Islamic State Launches Spring Offensive, Captures Several Iraqi Villages iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Despite continued coalition airstrikes, the Islamic State has launched a spring offensive in western Iraq and has already captured three villages near the provincial capital of Ramadi.The ISIS fighters are reportedly battling against Iraqi forces in Anbar Province.The fighting follows Islamic State losses in northern Iraq earlier this month when Iraqi troops forced the militants out of Tikrit, the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Six Arrested at Manchester Airport in Terror Investigation

Six Arrested at Manchester Airport in Terror Investigation jeff gynane/iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, United Kingdom) -- Four people were arrested at Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom on Wednesday as part of an terrorism investigation.A Greater Manchester Police press release said that the latest arrests are part of the same investigation that saw two people taken into custody on Tuesday. The four people arrested Wednesday were between the ages of 22 and 47, while the two arrested previously were identified only as a 21-year-old man and a 31-year-old man.All six individuals were charged with commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. They remain in policy custody and are being questioned, the press release said.The investigation began after nine people were stopped at the Turkey/Syria border by Turkish officials earlier this month, the police said. Officers are working to establish the reason those nine people -- five adults and four children, part of one family -- were attempting entry into Syria. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Egyptian President Calls Security in Region ‘Red Line’ in Discussing Operations Against Houthi Rebels

Egyptian President Calls Security in Region ‘Red Line’ in Discussing Operations Against Houthi Rebels Photo by Ebrahim Hamid /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Tuesday that security in the Gulf region is a "red line" during a meeting with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.The two leaders met to discuss the latest developments in the Saudi-led operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Saudi minister hailed Egypt's support for the operation, according to the Egyptian State Information Service, in particular, the role of the Egyptian navy in the Red Sea.Al Ahram Online reports that El-Sisi said that Egypt, "would always help its brothers and defend Arab rights."El-Sisi and Bin Salman also discussed measures adopted to maintain the rights and identity of the Yemeni people, the SIS said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Protester ‘Glitter Bombs’ ECB President

Protester ‘Glitter Bombs’ ECB President DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images(FRANKFURT, Germany) -- The European Central Bank's president was taken by surprise at a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday when an activist seemingly came out of nowhere and "glitter bombed" him.President Mario Draghi had just began explaining how smoothly the ECB's stimulus program was going when, suddenly, an apparent activist rushed down from the front row, leaped onto the table in front of Draghi and threw what looked like confetti and glitter at him."End ECB dictatorship," the protester yelled.A Twitter user under the name Josephine Witt claims to be the woman who carried out the surprise "glitter bomb" attack on the Italian economist.The ECB said in a statement that the activist registered as a journalist for a news organization she didn't represent."Like all visitors to the ECB, she went through an identity check, metal detector and X-ray of her bag, before entering the building," the ECB added. "ECB President Mario Draghi remained unharmed and calmly proceeded with the press conference." ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family Survives Terrifying Ordeal, Flees Yemen by Boat

Family Survives Terrifying Ordeal, Flees Yemen by Boat Hafez Alawdi is reunited with his wife and two kid after they fled Yemen by boat in a journey that took 16 hours. ABC News(DJIBOUTI) -- Reuniting with his family after a terrifying ordeal on the high seas "was my life starting all over again,” Hafez Alawdi says.Hafez is a chemistry professor at Cal State Fresno in California and his wife Samiha, son Shaker, 10, and daughter Sara, 4, braved the 16-hour boat trip from the Red Sea port city of Mocha, Yemen, to Djibouti earlier this week, fleeing the intensifying violence there.Hafez and his daughter Sara are both U.S. citizens but his wife and son are Yemeni nationals.“If you have connections, you can provide for your family -- if you don’t have connections, I’m sorry, but you’re out of luck.”Hafez had connections and thanks to the tip on the U.S. Embassy in Sana’s website, he tracked down a boat departing from Mocha, paid for three spots and his family was on the road at 3 a.m. the following night.For Samiha, it’s been a terrifying few weeks. The young mother, parenting alone in the city of Taiz while her husband works in California, describes her average day: “Waking up in the morning, I don't send the kids to school -- we eat minimal food because you don’t want it to run out -- then we take shelter, always take shelter -- hide from all the bombings -- and then once the night hits that’s when the airstrikes get worse. The electricity goes out. And more shelter."As Samiha and the children boarded the boat, Hafez boarded a plane to come meet them.“I didn’t know whether I’d see my family again -- if God forbid the ship sinks,” he says. Sitting on the plane, “tears start running down my eyes and a passenger next to me was just looking at me like -- Okay they’re probably thinking that I’m crazy -- I probably am at this point.”When he landed in Djibouti, he borrowed a phone, dialed the U.S. Embassy Djibouti emergency number and the consular officer handed the phone to his wife.“He handed the phone to my wife, and as soon as I heard her voice, that was the happiest moment that I had,” he says, choking up. "I knew that my family were here and they were with a fellow American who’s taking care of them."He starts to describe how the kids leaped out of the consular car but stops. “I can’t find the words to describe that moment," he said.“I’m glad that I took this risk, and if I have to take that all over again, I will,” he said. “It’s a gamble. ...I did not know what to expect, it’s definitely better than staying in Yemen.” He advises any Americans still in Yemen to get out -- and "get out now."If all goes according to plan, the Alawdis will remain in Djibouti until U.S. visas come through for Samiha and Shaker, and then the whole family is Fresno-bound.Asked if he’s excited to go to America for the first time, 10-year-old Shaker flashed a big smile, head nodding. But for now, his dad says, he wants to take a nap. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iraqi Leader Admits Atrocities in ISIS Fight, Promises Justice

Iraqi Leader Admits Atrocities in ISIS Fight, Promises JusticePete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed Tuesday that atrocities have been committed by government forces battling ISIS, but in a White House meeting with President Obama he also insisted the incidents were not widespread."I have to admit that there are some violations -- human rights violations being committed by some criminal parties and outliers, but we have zero tolerance for any violations of human rights," al-Abadi told reporters as he met with Obama in the Oval Office.The Iraqi leader's unprompted remarks came on the heels of at least one well-documented revelation: an ABC News six-month investigation in March that revealed dozens of ISIS-like atrocities perpetrated by government security forces and posted across Iraqi social media sites. In this case as well as at least one other, Iraqi officials promised to investigate.Obama said probing those within the Iraqi Security Forces responsible for such war crimes will "ensure that the government is accountable for the actions of armed forces so that if there are criminal acts or sectarian retributions that are carried out, that ultimately Prime Minister Abadi is able to call those forces to account and to control them."Abadi said "criminal elements and some individuals" have been brought to justice for isolated incidents -- though the Iraqi government under the former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was strongly criticized by the Obama administration last year for a culture of impunity among Iraqi security forces accused of torturing and executing terror suspects.The two leaders in their private Oval Office meeting continued discussing the problem of Iraqi Army, Special Forces and other counter-terrorism units mimicking ISIS with atrocities, according to an administration official.“The issue of rights abuses did come up. The Prime Minister noted that the Government of Iraq is taking steps to address human rights abuses and will hold those responsible for these abuses accountable," the administration official told ABC News.Abadi is in Washington to request more guns and bullets, even though Congress in December approved a $1.5 billion gift of more than 50,000 light infantry arms and equipment to Baghdad to fight ISIS. There is ample evidence in social media and news photos that countless American weapons such as M4 rifles have ended up in the hands of those committing atrocities, including Shi'a militias.The videos and images uncovered in the ABC News investigation have been circulating within the dark corners of Iraqi social media for months. In some U.S. military and Iraqi circles, the Iraqi units and militias under scrutiny are referred to as the "dirty brigades.”ABC News came upon the first such images last September, when a reporter following personal Instagram accounts of Iraqi counter-terrorism troops spotted a video of a handcuffed prisoner shot in the head by a man in camouflage -- which more than 600 users "liked." The English and Arabic captions by a self-identified member of the Iraqi security forces said, “We have arrested this terrorist yesterday and we killed him after completion of interrogation."A separate photo posted in September showed the severed head of a long-haired and bearded alleged ISIS fighter lashed to the grill of a U.S.-donated Humvee bearing an Iraqi Army license plate. A second related photo eventually surfaced of what appeared to be an Iraqi Army soldier holding up the same severed head next to the gun truck. Desecration of war dead and extrajudicial killings are violations of the Geneva Conventions."You don’t behead someone and place their head on the front of your Humvee. That’s unacceptable -- because it’s a war crime. And it’s an atrocity," retired U.S. Army Special Forces Lt. Col. James Gavrilis told ABC News in the original report.As a senior officer in 5th Special Forces Group in Iraq a decade ago, Gavrilis was deeply involved in counterinsurgency during the U.S. war and creating Iraqi counter-terrorism units from Special Forces and special police teams."I think it’s horrible. I think this really shows a failure of our policy for Iraq," Gavrilis said, confirming that the imagery looked authentic and too plentiful online to be faked. "Both sides are committing war crimes," he said. "This is widespread, it’s endemic."An Iraqi government spokesperson previously said while the dozens of photos could be ISIS propaganda, a full investigation was warranted.“Yes, of course we will investigate these pictures,” the spokesperson, Gen. Saad Maan, said as he viewed a selection of images provided by ABC News in an interview in Baghdad that aired last month."We don't have anything to hide,” the general said. “We don't have anything to be in, let's say, in a black corner." Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Seven Hundred Owl-Lovers Flock to London Secret Viewing

Seven Hundred Owl-Lovers Flock to London Secret Viewing iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Everyone has heard of owls, but very few people have actually seen one. That’s about to change, at least for a few days in London.A cultural events planner offered lucky visitors a chance to spend two hours with owls in a secret location in East London. More than 100,000 applied for tickets to the empty space on Bethnal Green Road but only 700 were able to get one.Some visitors like Evin Morrison came from as far away as California to be part of the experience. “They’re just really majestic,” Morrisson said. “They’re on sweaters, necklaces and home furnishings, everywhere. I think that’s given them a little bit of notoriety.”Seb Lyall, founder of the five-day gig, told ABC News the aim of the event was educational: Falconers walk around the room with the owls and give information about them.While there are strict rules such as no standing and no stroking, everyone is allowed to take a picture with an owl or even hold one on the arm for a few seconds. The fun part, Lyall says, is simply being around owls and learning about them. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New Horizons Space Probe Sends Back First Color Image of Pluto

New Horizons Space Probe Sends Back First Color Image of Pluto Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. NASA/Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute(NEW YORK) -- NASA's New Horizons space probe sent its first color image of Pluto back to Earth after a nearly decade-long journey through space to reach the dwarf planet.Taken from 71 million miles away, the photo shows two bright specs -- Pluto and its largest moon Charon, which NASA said is about the same size as Texas.New Horizons is preparing for a July 14 rendezvous with Pluto. When it reaches its destination, NASA said it expects New Horizons will send back detailed color images showing surface features as close as a few miles across. After a journey stretching three billion miles, New Horizons probe woke from hibernation in December to prepare for the final stretch of its trip.New Horizons blasted off for its long haul mission on Jan. 19, 2006, atop an Atlas V rocket, back when Pluto still enjoyed status as a planet. Scientists later that year voted to demote Pluto to a "dwarf planet."During its epic trip, New Horizons has spent two-thirds of the time sleeping, taking a total of 18 naps, which helps NASA preserve the systems on board. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pope Francis’ iPad Fetches $30,500 at Auction

Pope Francis’ iPad Fetches $30,500 at AuctionBuda Mendes/Getty Images(MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay) — Pope Francis' old iPad sold for $30,500 at an auction in Uruguay this week with the proceeds benefiting a high school in the country.Castells, the Uruguayan auction house that handled the bidding, told ABC News the pontiff gave the iPad to a Uruguayan priest with the hope that he would find a way to do something good with the tablet.The priest donated the iPad to the Francisco de Paysandu high school, which will receive the $30,500 windfall from the holiest iPad.Castells declined to disclose who purchased the device or the nationality of the winning bidder.Pope Francis said during a Google+ Hangout in February that he doesn't know how to work a computer, but that hasn't stopped the Argentinean from being a technology evangelist.Aside from tweeting and participating in two Google+ Hangouts, Pope Francis has also proclaimed the Internet to be a "gift from God."Let's just hope he remembered to disable his iCloud before handing over that iPad.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Last Known Male White Rhino Guarded by Armed Rangers in Kenya

Last Known Male White Rhino Guarded by Armed Rangers in Kenya Courtesy Ol Pejeta Conservancy (NEW YORK) -- Four armed rangers are guarding what is believed to be the world’s only remaining male northern white rhino around the clock as international experts attempt to facilitate his reproduction in Kenya.The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya made a deal in 2009 with the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic and acquired four white rhinos -- Najin, Fatu, Sudan and Suni.Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, told ABC News that the aim of the relocation was to improve the chances of reproduction by having them live in more natural conditions.“While Kenya has not been a white rhino range state in the last 200 years, evidence from fossils and cave paintings in Kenya and northern Tanzania suggests that the white rhinoceros was widespread and a part of the East African savanna fauna until 3,000 years ago or less,” the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species reports on its website.Among the four acquired by Kenya, two were males. However, shortly after the San Diego Zoo’s male white rhino died in December, one of Kenya’s male white rhinos died, leaving 42-year-old Sudan as the only known male still alive.Elaborate security operations are spread out on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy's 3,229-square-foot property, and officials are paying particular attention to white rhinos who are relatively approachable, Vigne told ABC News.In addition to having armed guards and a team dedicated to the rhinos' well-being, efforts also are being made to prevent poaching.“Because of the poaching crisis, one of the measures was to remove horns,” Vigne said. "Not all of it, but hopefully enough to reduce their attractiveness for poachers.”In recent years, poaching levels have increased significantly in many African countries, including South Africa.“Declining state budgets for conservation in real terms, declining capacity in some areas and increasing involvement of Southeast Asians in African range states are all of concern,” according to the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species website.“In Kenya, we have made progress in the last eight to 12 months and, touch wood, it will continue,” Vigne said.He hopes there is enough time left, perhaps to conduct in vitro fertilization and make Sudan the rhino reproduce. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Ambassador: ‘We’re Doing the Best We Can’ for Americans in Yemen

US Ambassador: ‘We’re Doing the Best We Can’ for Americans in YemenCourtesy US Embassy in Djibouti (DJIBOUTI) — Hundreds of Americans remain trapped in Yemen and escape routes are dwindling, the U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti said.Various boats have sailed and motored their way into the port and Ambassador Tom Kelly was on deck to meet the most recent arrivals: 200 people including 11 American citizens, all crammed onto an overcrowded fishing boat. In the past two weeks, 150 Americans have fled to Djibouti. Kelly’s staff speaks with every American who arrives in the port."We’re ramping up. We’re anticipating more,” he says. “I think we’re doing the best we can, and we hope that it's going to be good enough to get more people out.”"It’s true that the easier options for people getting out on their own are starting to recede, especially as some of these larger naval vessels wrap up their operation, and so that’s going to make the ordeal more challenging,” he adds. The boat that docked overnight was a typical Yemeni fishing boat that looked like it could comfortably fit 50 people, not the 200 people who endured the trip. The grueling journey took about 30 hours -- without bathroom facilities, food or water and no protection from the elements through one of the world’s most dangerous shipping channels.Despite the difficult circumstances, Kelly wants the trapped Americans to remain hopeful -- but to pursue all possible options out of Yemen.“We say anything that you think that is viable, that works, and is safe is worth doing,” Kelly said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Australian Man Bit by Crocodile on Golf Course

Australian Man Bit by Crocodile on Golf Course iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- A man playing golf in Australia had more to fear than sand traps during a recent round.John Lahiff had to be treated for leg injuries after a crocodile bit him while he was retrieving his ball from a water trap on a course in Port Douglas."I drove a car around there to retrieve the ball and I didn't see a croc sunbaking just on the edge of the water and I walked passed it and it got me on the way back," Lahiff told the Australian Broadcasting Company.The incident took place at the Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course in Port Douglas on Monday. The 75-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for puncture wounds.Even though local rangers have been trying to find and remove the offending crocodile, Lahiff says that it wasn't entirely the animal's fault."It was partly my fault for disturbing it," Lahiff said. "It was just sun baking and I think it got more of a fright than me." Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

#BringBackOurGirls: One Year Later, Girls Who Escaped Speak Out

#BringBackOurGirls: One Year Later, Girls Who Escaped Speak Out A march and vigil are held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Tuesday, with 276 girls taking part to represent each of the missing, on April 14, 2015. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok in Borneo state, north-eastern Nigeria, on the evening of April 14 last year. (Photo by Henry Chukwuedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)(CHIBOK, Nigeria) -- When Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 young girls from their school in northeastern Nigeria last year, international outrage fueled a social media campaign calling for their release. The #BringBackOurGirls movement picked up momentum before ultimately fading from the international spotlight amidst criticism it was nothing more than "hashtag diplomacy." Indeed, most of the captured girls remain in the Islamic terror group's clutches.Several of the young women who managed to escape their kidnappers found a different way to fight back.“Western education, I think is to me, is what makes me what I am today,” said "Mary," one girl who was able to escape. “I can achieve my ambitions and then win back my community and help my people.”Three of the girls who escaped the kidnapping agreed to be interviewed by ABC News under the condition their names not be released to protect their families.They are now attending the American University of Nigeria, earning a western-based education, a strong message considering “Boko Haram” itself translates to “Western education is forbidden.”“I remember vividly the meeting in my office in May when someone said, we are a development university, what are we going to do about the ones who escaped?” said Dr. Margee Ensign, the university’s president. “We thought about it and realized, while the world's attention is on the ones who were kidnapped, as it should be, and while we couldn't do anything about the 300 or so, we might be able to help some of the ones who escaped.”Ensign eventually found a place for 21 of the 58 girls who had escaped at the university.“They're making amazing progress every day, and they're a reminder to me of how education transforms lives,” Ensign told ABC News. “They play sports, they play volleyball, they're running, they're learning how to swim. Most importantly, their whole goal is to get an education, to get a career, and go back and rebuild Chibok.”Chibok is the town where Boko Haram militants kidnapped the girls just as they were preparing to take exams.One year later, 219 of the girls are still missing, andthe Islamic terror group has turned the northern region of Africa’s most populated country into a terror playground.Headlines of mass kidnappings and deadly attacks on villages have become commonplace.Chibok is now uninhabited, save for a couple of parents who live in the forest around it and visit their old homes periodically, Ensign said.According to a report released by UNICEF Monday, more than 1.5 million people, including 800,000 children, have fled their homes as a result of the onslaught from Boko Haram.A separate report recently released by Amnesty International claims at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by the terror group since the start of 2014.“I'm not angry with [Boko Haram] because according to my own knowledge, they said education is not important,” said "Blessing," a 17-year-old. “So they don’t know what they’re doing. I also pray that one day they might know the truth, and change.”Ensign said many of her students were recently asked if they had “hate” towards Boko Haram.“It was really moving -- they said, 'No, we forgive them,'” Ensign said. “They said [Boko Haram] is uneducated, they're poor, they've been brainwashed. That’s [the girls’] perspective, which I find quite remarkable based on what they've lived through themselves.”Despite help from the U.S. and other countries in last year’s search, there have been little more than rumored sightings of the girls’ missing classmates. Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement Tuesday that he “cannot promise that we can find them.”UNICEF’s Monday report pointed to evidence that many of the young girls and women taken by Boko Haram are being subjected to forced marriage, forced labor and rape.“I have hope that they’re alive,” Ensign said. “I think it's going to take some time to see and find them. But as the government and the army begin to make more progress with Boko Haram, I think we're all hopeful that they will be found.”Ensign said the one-year anniversary will be “tough” for the girls at her university. Two of the girls’ fathers were murdered just over Christmas break by Boko Haram.“They have a very strong faith, and when you talk to them they will say they know they are being protected,” Ensign said. “We've offered them trauma counseling, all sorts of counseling to assist them. But again, they've told us that they want to stay together as a community.”Both "Mary," a 17-year-old, and "Deborah," a 19-year-old, told ABC News they hope to become a doctors once they graduate from AUN and return to Chibok.According to Ensign, however, a massive reconstruction effort will need to take place in the country’s northeast before that can happen.In a short trip just last week to several towns north of her university, Ensign said Boko Haram had left behind massive devastation, destroying churches, mosques and schools.It’s caused a massive surge of refugees, as many as 270,000, to crowd into the town of Yola, where the university is located. Ensign has spent the past week in Washington, D.C., seeking to raise funds for the school and to help the refugees, as well as rally for the international community’s support in rebuilding infrastructure in the north, so the refugees can return home.“I'm really hoping that the US, the UN and the EU, the Brits come in now because there's a real opportunity,” Ensign said. “There's a huge void. And that means there's an opportunity to rebuild this part of the country that's so important and make sure people have the basics of life: food and education and health care.”The school’s community, including the girls who escaped, have become involved in efforts to care for the displaced, Ensign said, as some begin to take their spring exams.“This life is all about a struggle, falling and then getting up, meeting disappointment and then meeting with blessings all the time,” Deborah said. “But what I want the people to understand is first off, whatever kind of hardship or situation you're getting in to, just put your trust in God and then believe that He is going to save you.”Watch the ABC News digital original video below to hear directly from the girls.To learn more about the American University of Nigeria Foundation’s efforts, visit AUNF.org. ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

#BringBackOurGirls: One Year Later, Girls Who Escaped Speak Out

#BringBackOurGirls: One Year Later, Girls Who Escaped Speak Out A march and vigil are held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Tuesday, with 276 girls taking part to represent each of the missing, on April 14, 2015. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok in Borneo state, north-eastern Nigeria, on the evening of April 14 last year. (Photo by Henry Chukwuedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)(CHIBOK, Nigeria) -- When Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 young girls from their school in northeastern Nigeria last year, international outrage fueled a social media campaign calling for their release. The #BringBackOurGirls movement picked up momentum before ultimately fading from the international spotlight amidst criticism it was nothing more than "hashtag diplomacy." Indeed, most of the captured girls remain in the Islamic terror group's clutches.Several of the young women who managed to escape their kidnappers found a different way to fight back.“Western education, I think is to me, is what makes me what I am today,” said "Mary," one girl who was able to escape. “I can achieve my ambitions and then win back my community and help my people.”Three of the girls who escaped the kidnapping agreed to be interviewed by ABC News under the condition their names not be released to protect their families.They are now attending the American University of Nigeria, earning a western-based education, a strong message considering “Boko Haram” itself translates to “Western education is forbidden.”“I remember vividly the meeting in my office in May when someone said, we are a development university, what are we going to do about the ones who escaped?” said Dr. Margee Ensign, the university’s president. “We thought about it and realized, while the world's attention is on the ones who were kidnapped, as it should be, and while we couldn't do anything about the 300 or so, we might be able to help some of the ones who escaped.”Ensign eventually found a place for 21 of the 58 girls who had escaped at the university.“They're making amazing progress every day, and they're a reminder to me of how education transforms lives,” Ensign told ABC News. “They play sports, they play volleyball, they're running, they're learning how to swim. Most importantly, their whole goal is to get an education, to get a career, and go back and rebuild Chibok.”Chibok is the town where Boko Haram militants kidnapped the girls just as they were preparing to take exams.One year later, 219 of the girls are still missing, andthe Islamic terror group has turned the northern region of Africa’s most populated country into a terror playground.Headlines of mass kidnappings and deadly attacks on villages have become commonplace.Chibok is now uninhabited, save for a couple of parents who live in the forest around it and visit their old homes periodically, Ensign said.According to a report released by UNICEF Monday, more than 1.5 million people, including 800,000 children, have fled their homes as a result of the onslaught from Boko Haram.A separate report recently released by Amnesty International claims at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by the terror group since the start of 2014.“I'm not angry with [Boko Haram] because according to my own knowledge, they said education is not important,” said "Blessing," a 17-year-old. “So they don’t know what they’re doing. I also pray that one day they might know the truth, and change.”Ensign said many of her students were recently asked if they had “hate” towards Boko Haram.“It was really moving -- they said, 'No, we forgive them,'” Ensign said. “They said [Boko Haram] is uneducated, they're poor, they've been brainwashed. That’s [the girls’] perspective, which I find quite remarkable based on what they've lived through themselves.”Despite help from the U.S. and other countries in last year’s search, there have been little more than rumored sightings of the girls’ missing classmates. Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement Tuesday that he “cannot promise that we can find them.”UNICEF’s Monday report pointed to evidence that many of the young girls and women taken by Boko Haram are being subjected to forced marriage, forced labor and rape.“I have hope that they’re alive,” Ensign said. “I think it's going to take some time to see and find them. But as the government and the army begin to make more progress with Boko Haram, I think we're all hopeful that they will be found.”Ensign said the one-year anniversary will be “tough” for the girls at her university. Two of the girls’ fathers were murdered just over Christmas break by Boko Haram.“They have a very strong faith, and when you talk to them they will say they know they are being protected,” Ensign said. “We've offered them trauma counseling, all sorts of counseling to assist them. But again, they've told us that they want to stay together as a community.”Both "Mary," a 17-year-old, and "Deborah," a 19-year-old, told ABC News they hope to become a doctors once they graduate from AUN and return to Chibok.According to Ensign, however, a massive reconstruction effort will need to take place in the country’s northeast before that can happen.In a short trip just last week to several towns north of her university, Ensign said Boko Haram had left behind massive devastation, destroying churches, mosques and schools.It’s caused a massive surge of refugees, as many as 270,000, to crowd into the town of Yola, where the university is located. Ensign has spent the past week in Washington, D.C., seeking to raise funds for the school and to help the refugees, as well as rally for the international community’s support in rebuilding infrastructure in the north, so the refugees can return home.“I'm really hoping that the US, the UN and the EU, the Brits come in now because there's a real opportunity,” Ensign said. “There's a huge void. And that means there's an opportunity to rebuild this part of the country that's so important and make sure people have the basics of life: food and education and health care.”The school’s community, including the girls who escaped, have become involved in efforts to care for the displaced, Ensign said, as some begin to take their spring exams.“This life is all about a struggle, falling and then getting up, meeting disappointment and then meeting with blessings all the time,” Deborah said. “But what I want the people to understand is first off, whatever kind of hardship or situation you're getting in to, just put your trust in God and then believe that He is going to save you.”Watch the ABC News digital original video below to hear directly from the girls.To learn more about the American University of Nigeria Foundation’s efforts, visit AUNF.org. ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Asiana Airlines Flight Skids off Runway in Japan

Asiana Airlines Flight Skids off Runway in Japan Aviator70/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(HIROSHIMA, Japan) -- An Asiana Airlines flight from South Korea skidded off the runway upon landing in Hiroshima, Japan, the airline says.When the flight, which had 73 passengers and eight crew on board, landed at about 8 p.m. local time, the plane skidded. Eighteen passengers reported minor injuries and were treated accordingly, Asiana said.The other passengers were able to get off the plane and leave the airport safely.Two Americans were reportedly on board the plane. It was not clear if they were among the injured. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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