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John Moore/Getty Images(TECUN UMAN, Guatemala) -- As the caravan of Central American migrants enters Mexico, a senior Trump administration official praised the Mexican police for their handling of the "crisis on their southern border."

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen tweeted that DHS would continue "to support our Mexican partners as they take steps to confront the crisis on their southern border. The Mexican federal police are handling this in a professional and humane manner."

She added in a subsequent tweet that she has been in “constant contact” with her foreign counterparts in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, and that her department was monitoring the situation and ready to provide assistance if necessary.

Thousands of migrants reached the Guatemala-Mexico border on Friday, breaking through a fence on the Guatemala side of a bridge separating the two countries. On the Mexican side of the bridge, they were met by Mexican police in riot gear. Others, meanwhile, waded into the Suchiate River or took rafts to get to Mexico.

Many of the migrants are seeking refugee status in either Mexico or the United States.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico. It also said that priority attention would be given "164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor who traveled alone."

President Trump threatened in a series of tweets on Thursday to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants moving north.

The president also blamed Democrats at a rally on Friday night in Arizona for the illegal border crossings.

Yet, it seems that Mexico will continue to process migrants. The Interior Ministry said in its statement that migrants will begin the refugee application process at the country’s National Institute of Migration, where their data will be collected, before they are sent to shelters that have been “enabled for their accommodation.”

The Mexican government also released handout video of migrants on a bus being told by an official that they would be assisted in being processed for any asylum claims they may have.

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Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained in connection with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency.

Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

An initial investigation has revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight -- which resulted in the journalist's death -- Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said in a statement, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Investigators are working to hold those involved with Khashoggi's death responsible, according to the statement.

Turkish officials have claimed that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi's disappearance.

At least one of the suspects traveled to Istanbul for the purpose of meeting with Khashoggi, according to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency. The suspects then attempted to "conceal and cover" what happened, the statement read.

Khashoggi, an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, has written critically of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government.

The White House acknowledged the Saudis' announcement, stating that it would "continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process.

"We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's disappearance but told reporters Thursday that "it certainly looks like" he was dead.

Saudi Arabia had denied news reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, but pressure has been building on the Saudi government more than two weeks to explain what happened to him after he entered the consulate earlier this month.

On Friday evening, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – a key ally of President Donald Trump – posted a tweet registering his skepticism of the Saudi government’s latest account of what happened to Khashoggi.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement. First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince.”

Khashoggi had warned of renewed efforts to silence free press in the Middle East, and his final column, titled, "What the Arab world needs most is free expression," was published on Wednesday.

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PeterHermesFurian/iStock/Thinkstock(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- New details show how close the top U.S. general in Afghanistan was to Thursday's violent insider attack in Kandahar that killed two senior Afghan security officials and wounded the province's governor. Gen. Austin Scott Miller told Friday he believes the attacker was targeting the Afghan officials and expressed confidence that despite the attack Afghan forces will be able to ensure security for key parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The attack killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, the well-known police chief in Kandahar, and Gen. Abdul Mohmin, the top intelligence official in the province. Kandahar's governor Zalmai Wessa was wounded along with three others, including an American service member and an American civilian employee.

On Friday, Miller told the Tolo News Agency that he believes that "what happened in Kandahar was an attack on the security forces."

“My assessment is that I was not the target," Miller said. "It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target.”

The attack occurred shortly after Miller had participated in a meeting with the top civilian and military officials in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The American general and the Afghan officials had moved to an area outside of the governor's residence to await the arrival of the military helicopter that would transport Miller and his staff, according to Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO training mission in Afghanistan.

The group was talking among themselves waiting for Miller's helicopter when, Butler said, a gunman wearing some type of Afghan security uniform opened fire on them with an automatic weapon.

Butler stressed that Miller was not in the shooter’s line of fire and was firing at the Afghan officials.

The gunman was shot immediately. “It was over in seconds,” said Butler.

Miller, like the other U.S. personnel around him, pulled out his handgun, which is standard practice in such a situation.

"When there’s a threat, we will draw our weapons,” said Butler. “That’s what we’re trained to do and Gen. Miller is no exception.”

What followed was a combination of U.S. and Afghan forces securing the area and tending to the wounded.

Miller had some of the wounded transported aboard his helicopter so they could quickly receive medical treatment.

On Friday, in a hospital bedside interview with Afghan reporters Wessa said his health was improving and described the attack as an act of terror.

The attack led to a one-week postponement of parliamentary elections in Kandahar that were scheduled for Saturday.

A day after the attack in Kandahar, Miller was seen on the streets of Kabul greeting Afghan security personnel ahead of Saturday's key parliamentary elections.

Butler said Miller's visit with Afghan forces was intended "to provide some confidence to the Afghan people and security forces.”

Miller expressed confidence that with U.S. and NATO support Afghan security forces will do a good job of providing security for Saturday's election in the rest of the country.

"We will continue our support. My message to the people of Afghanistan has been very consistent: you have every right to be proud of your security forces and the preparations that made for this election despite this unfortunate event, tragic event down in Kandahar,” he said.

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swind/iStock/Thinkstock(FLORENNE, Belgium) -- When it was over, an F-16 lay burnt to a crisp on a tarmac in Belgium.

The pictures tell the story: Mechanics at an Air Force base in Florenne were working on a nearby F-16 last Thursday and accidentally triggered that jet's cannon, which fired at the other plane.

Those rounds struck the recently fueled F-16, which exploded into a fireball. A source told the Belgian broadcaster VRT that one of the mechanics had accidentally fired rounds from the jet's 20-milimeter multi-barrel cannon.

The Belgian Air Force said another F-16 also suffered collateral damage from the rounds.

The two mechanics involved in the incident were treated at the scene for potential hearing loss.

"You can't help thinking of what a disaster this could have been," Col. Didier Polome told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

The Belgian Air Force said the bizarre incident is being investigated by Belgium's Air Safety Directorate.

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Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that America's global dominance is coming to an end, with the U.S. itself accelerating that process with a string of mistakes "typical of an empire."

The Russian president, speaking at the Valdai forum in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, criticized the U.S. for implementing sanctions against Russia and other nations, arguing that doing so undermined trust in the dollar as the world's universal currency.

"It's a typical mistake of an empire," Putin said. "An empire always thinks that it can allow itself to make some little mistakes, take some extra costs, because its power is such that they don't mean anything. But the quantity of those costs, those mistakes inevitably grows.

"And the moment comes when it can't handle them, neither in the security sphere or the economic sphere."

The demise of the United States' global hegemony has been a recurring theme in Putin's speeches over recent years, as the Russian president has painted his nation as leading a new world order as a rising China, along with BRIC nations Brazil and India, gain equal footing.

At a panel session, Putin upbraided the U.S. for its military interventions in the Middle East, saying they had arisen from a dangerous American monopoly on world power.

"Thank God, this situation of a unipolar world, of a monopoly, is coming to an end," Putin said. "It's practically already over."

Putin added that he wasn’t trying to offend anyone with his remarks and that he believed the end of American dominance would make the world more balanced and allow for more international dialogue.

Russia, Putin said, was ready for a better relationship with the U.S. at any time.

The Russian president also defended President Donald Trump, saying he didn't agree with characterizations that Trump only listened to himself.

"Maybe he acts like that with someone else, but in that case they are to blame," Putin said. "I have a completely normal and professional dialogue with him, and of course he listens. I see that he reacts to his interlocutor's arguments."

Putin discussed other topics as well, including the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist who disappeared into the Saudi consulate in Turkey and, according to a Turkish source, may have been murdered there.

Putin said the U.S. "has a certain responsibility" for Khashoggi because the journalist used to live there. Putin also said he didn't believe there was evidence yet proving Khashoggi was murdered and that he saw no reason for his nation to spoil its relations with the Saudis.

He compared the case to that of the former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal, whom Russia is accused of poisoning with a nerve agent in Britain.

"If someone knows what happens, and there was a murder, I hope some evidence is provided. And dependent on that, we will make some decisions," Putin said. "We do not know what happened in reality. So why should we undertake any steps to deteriorate our relations with Saudi Arabia?"

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Martin Holverda/iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- China's economy saw its growth drop slightly in the third quarter of the fiscal year, reporting the slowest growth since 2009.

The country's National Bureau of Statistics reported 6.5 percent growth between July and September -- down from 6.8 percent in the first quarter and 6.7 percent in the second. Bloomberg News cites trade tensions and a down period for the Chinese stock market as having significant impacts.

Chinese officials have pledged to support the economy by cutting costs for companies.

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ValEs1989/iStock/Thinkstock(VALLETTA, Malta) -- A new play has sparked controversy in Malta by daring to tackle one of the nation's oldest taboos: abortion.

De-terminated: The Abortion Diaries, written and directed by the journalist Herman Grech, has sparked debate in a country with one of the world's strictest abortion policies.

Malta is the only country in the European Union with an outright ban on abortion.

Grech based the play on a series of interviews he conducted in 2017 with people affected by the law, but he's adamant his own opinions on the matter are "irrelevant."

"What I wanted to address, mainly, is the Maltese culture of intolerance where it comes to abortion, where both opposing camps shout at the other side in a tribal manner," he told ABC News. "By its very nature, abortion is a divisive subject, but that doesn't mean that you don't equip yourself with facts to make your arguments."

Hundreds of Maltese women are known to seek abortion abroad with no support network to assist them, Grech said.

"While Malta has among the most progressive laws in the world where it comes to LGBTQ issues, abortion is a big taboo," he added.

Malta’s abortion policies have been repeatedly criticized by the formed EU Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks. In February he wrote an article in the Times of Malta stressing the need to reform abortion law, after writing a letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in December 2017.

Muižnieks told the prime minister women who travel to other countries or pay for illegal abortions at home face a system of de facto discrimination, which is biased against those who can't afford such measures. In reply on Jan. 8, Joseph Muscat said, "My Government neither has the political mandate to open a debate on access to abortion, nor the support of the public opinion on this matter."

Dr. Miriam Sciberras, chairman of Life Network Malta, told ABC news Maltese laws protect women from the "trauma" of abortion.

"Women are not deprived of lifesaving treatment in pregnancy, should they need it -- their lives are not in danger but safeguarded," she said. "The preborn child is also safe in the womb and protected by law."

"De-terminated," which just premiered, is set to reopen the national conversation that some believe has been suppressed for too long.

"It's not up to me to try to change the law," Grech said. "But I think theater is a great medium to spark a debate."

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heard an alleged audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a senior Turkish official.

Speaking exclusively and on condition of anonymity to ABC News, the official claimed the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday, and that Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Separately, ABC News has also learned that Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and that they believe he died of strangulation.

The White House referred questions to the State Department which denied Pompeo had heard the recording or seen a transcript.

"Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Pompeo was asked later in the evening about the matter in a brief interview with reporters on a flight to Mexico City, part of a tour to Mexico and Panama.

"I’ve heard no tape, I’ve seen no transcript," Pompeo told reporters in the only question he would take on the topic. After initially declining to take questions on the matter in favor of questions regarding his trip, Pompeo denied ABC News' report, calling it "factually false."

On his way back from Istanbul on Wednesday, Pompeo was asked if he had heard the audio.

"I don’t have anything to say about that," he said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, rejected any assertions that Turkish officials had shared a recording with Pompeo.

"Turkey has not given a voice recording to Pompeo or any other American official,” he told reporters. “Chief prosecutor of Istanbul has launched an investigation and we are waiting for the results of this investigation."

President Trump has been publicly asking to hear the recording. Pompeo met with the president at the White House on Thursday morning to brief him on his visit to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where he met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

It is unknown whether Pompeo shared the transcript with the president, but soon after the meeting the president changed his tune.

While earlier in the week the president questioned whether the audio recording existed and cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance, on Thursday afternoon his administration abruptly canceled a visit to Saudi Arabia by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to attend a large investment conference hosted by the Crown Prince, whom Turkish officials have reportedly claimed was behind Khashoggi's killing.

Later in the day, Trump told reporters that "it certainly looks like" Khashoggi was dead.

"It certainly looks that way to me, it's very sad," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One to attend a political rally in Montana.

The president said the consequences for Saudi Arabia, if they are ultimately deemed culpable, "will have to be very severe. It's bad, bad stuff."

For now, the president said the United States is waiting for the results of several investigations but will then make a "very strong statement."

On Thursday, after his meeting at the White House, Pompeo said that he told the president that the Saudis should have "a few more days" to finish their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But Pompeo also stressed the "long strategic relationship" that the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an "important counter-terrorism supporter."

Reports have been circulating for days that the Turkish government has audio recordings of Khashoggi being interrogated and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials have openly claimed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, and that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul around the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Saudi government has strongly denied having anything to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

A close friend of Khashoggi, Turan Kislakci, told ABC News in an interview on Wednesday that Turkish government and security officials had told him that Khashoggi was dead.

"They said, 'We have audio on this. We know all the details about what transpired,'" said Kislakci. "They said, 'We were able to access this the first day, and we have various other evidence on this.'"

Kislakci claimed that the tapes reveal that after Khashoggi went into the Saudi embassy, he was given documents to sign. Khashoggi refused, and was killed.

"I still want to wish and hope that he is alive and so on," Kislakci said. "Unfortunately, this kind of news which related with his killing in a barbaric way is coming out."

Khashoggi, who had been living in the U.S., went missing more than two weeks ago after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was visiting the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding, and his fiancee waited for him in a car outside the consulate.

Khashoggi worked as an opinion columnist at The Washington Post newspaper, and has written critically of the Saudi government and its crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. Khashoggi warned of renewed efforts to silence the free press in the Middle East, and his final column, published on Wednesday, was titled "What the Arab world needs most is free expression."

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ABC News(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- An American student whom Israeli authorities had blocked from entering the country over her alleged political views was admitted into the country, following a ruling on Thursday from Israel's top court.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old graduate student from Florida, had been detained at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport for more than two weeks as she appealed a decision to deport her.

Israeli authorities allege that she called for a boycott of Israeli goods and that they could deny her entry under a recently-passed law.

Israel's High Court of Justice ruled in Alqasem's favor on Thursday, and her attorneys said she subsequently left the airport and entered Israel.

Her lawyers said they were heartened by the decision, which Israeli prosecutors said on Thursday that they would not appeal.

"The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law," her lawyers, Leora Bechor and Yotam Ben-Hillel, said in a statement. "Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Ministry of Interior unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted."

They added that Alqasem's appeal "has ensured that no one else should be denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups."

They called her case a "gross misapplication of the law."

For their part, Israeli officials expressed disappointment in the ruling.

"I am deeply saddened by the Supreme Court's decision, which indicates a lack of understanding of the methods of action of the BDS organizations, and damaged the State of Israel's ability to fight the boycott activists who harm all of us," said Gilad Erdan, Minister of Internal Security and Strategic Affairs, referring to her alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, which advocates boycotts as a political tool to protest Israeli policies related to the Palestinian territories.

Alqasem had intended to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which had joined her appeal. She had been held at Ben-Gurion Airport since she landed there on Oct. 2, pending her appeal.

A recently passed Israeli law allows authorities to ban entry to anyone it deems to have held a senior position in an organization publicly calling to boycott the State of Israel.

Alqasem is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine -- which an Israeli minister labeled an extremist organization -- and is from the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida, according to the Associated Press.

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iStock/Thinkstock(KERCH, Crimea) -- The death toll from a college shooting and bomb attack in Crimea has grown to 20, as a top Crimean official said authorities are searching for possible accomplices who may have helped a student carry out the massacre.

At least 42 who were injured remain hospitalized, six in a critical condition, according to authorities in the Black Sea city of Kerch, where the attack happened on Wednesday.

An 18 year-old student, Vladislav Rosylakov, has been identified by police as the attacker. Russian authorities had said Roslyakov acted alone at the school, but on Thursday, Crimea’s leader Sergey Aksyonov said he believed the student must have received help preparing for the attack.

"In the college he acted alone, but the task is to establish who prepared him for this crime," Aksyonov told reporters at the scene of the attack. "He could not, in my view, have carried out such prepared events alone."

Investigators are still trying to establish Roslyakov’s motive and suggested they are treating it as a school shooting similar to those that have plagued the United States. It was unclear to what extent Russian law enforcement shared Aksyonov's assessment.

Russian authorities initially thought the school shooting was a terrorist attack, before they reclassified it as "mass murder" after Roslyakov was identified. Security footage showed him entering the Kerch Polytechnic College, where he was a fourth-year student armed with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun and bags police said were filled with homemade grenades.

According to witnesses, Roslyakov began tossing the explosives into classrooms and opened fire. Police said a bomb packed with metal objects that was planted in the school also detonated. Roslyakov killed himself at the school after police arrived about 10 to 15 minutes later, police said.

The precise details of the attack remain unclear. Some accounts described a large bomb exploding, while others described only gunfire and grenades. Pictures from the scene published in Russian media showed a bag found at the school filled with what appear to be improvised explosives. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said it had defused a second bomb at the school on Wednesday.

Russia’s health minster, Veronika Skvortsova, said that most of the people killed were hit by gunfire, but that doctors had also been removing metal objects from people injured by what she said was a powerful bomb.

"The children's muscles are all 'minced', basically, with small pieces of metal," Skvortsova told reporters in Kerch, "We have found nuts and metal balls in the liver, guts, and blood vessels of those whose internal organs were ruptured. This is how powerful the explosion was," she said, saying others had lost lower limbs.

Friends and relatives of Rolyakov, speaking to Russian and foreign media, have described him as a quiet, isolated young man from a troubled background, fascinated by guns.

Russia’s main state newspaper, Izvestia quoted a source close to the investigation who said Roslyakov’s father had told police during questioning that his son had broken off contact recently with one of his few close friends and that he had been aware of his son’s interest in weapons.

Gun laws are strict in Russia and civilians are permitted only to own hunting rifles and smoothbore shotguns, and have to undergo background checks. Roslyakov had obtained his gun license only around two months ago, local officials said. Security camera footage aired by the Russian channel Ren-TV, showed him buying shotgun shells in store four days before the shooting.

Ordinary Russians and authorities are struggling to come to terms with the attack in a part of the world where school shootings are practically unheard of. People in Crimea and at a war memorial dedicated to Kerch near the Kremlin in Moscow have laid red mourning flowers and soft toys at makeshift shrines.

The aftermath of the shooting, however, is also unfolding against Crimea’s unusual political backdrop. Russia seized control of Crimea in 2014 using unmarked troops and has since periodically accused Ukraine of dispatching saboteurs to blow up infrastructure on the peninsula.

Some in Russia suggested that the Kerch attack may have ties to Ukraine, though there is no evidence so far.

In one of Russia's leading newspaper, Kommersant, anonymous security officials said investigators were examining whether Roslyakov had links to nationalist groups in Ukraine, referring to another case in which Russian prosecutors alleged a young Ukrainian man, Pavel Grib, tried to persuade a Russian teenage girl in Sochi to place a bomb at her school.

Officials though appear to be mostly grappling with a phenomenon grimly familiar in the U.S. but all but unknown in Russia -- mass school shootings.

Wednesday's attack was the deadliest act of violence at a Russian school since the Beslan terrorist attack in 2004, when 333 people, many children, died after Chechen fighters seized a school.

In Crimea, officials said they would review security measures at schools. On Thursday, armed riot police were temporarily deployed to guard all schools on the peninsula.

At a forum in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin told an audience that the Kerch shooting was the "result of globalization."

"It all started with those tragic events in American schools," Putin said. "Young people with unstable minds create false heroes for themselves. It means we are not creating the necessary interesting and healthy content for young people. They have only this surrogate heroism and it leads to these sorts of tragedies."

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iStock/Thinkstock(ABERDEENSHIRE, Scotland) -- A case of mad cow disease has been reported at a farm in Scotland.

Authorities have been quick to calm fears prompted by the outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) -- more widely-known as mad cow disease -- after movement restrictions were placed on animals at an unidentified farm in Aberdeenshire, meaning the animals cannot be moved to other farms.

“While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the disease's origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working,” Fergus Ewing, the Scottish government’s Rural Economy Secretary, said in a statement sent to ABC News.

Officials also stressed that consumers should not yet be worried by the case because the disease did not enter the human food chain.

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas, said that “it was too early to tell where the disease came from,” but urged any farmers with concerns to immediately come forward and seek advice.

The disease was discovered in a routine check on the Aberdeenshire farm, in northeastern Scotland. As a standard practice, all cows over four years of age that die are tested for BSE, and if the test comes back positive, all the animal’s offspring are isolated and later destroyed to comply with European Union (EU) requirements.

An investigation has been launched by the Animal Health Agency.

In the 1990s, a mass outbreak of BSE resulted in a ten year ban instituted by the EU on importing British beef, which began in 1996. The industry had been worth more than $653 million a year before the ban, which was lifted in 2006, according to the BBC.

Mad cow disease reached its peak in the U.K. in 1992-3, when more than 100,000 confirmed cases of mad cow disease were reported, sparking widespread panic, according to The Guardian.

National Health Service guidelines state that mad cow disease is likely to cause Variant CJD, a rare and fatal condition that affects the brain, when infected meat is eaten by humans.

Dr. Jude Capper, an animal scientist and expert on U.K. livestock, told ABC News that the government has learned the lessons of thirty years ago.

“The BSE outbreak in the late [1980s] had a devastating impact on the UK cattle industry, yet it provided some extremely valuable insights into how to deal with future disease issues,” she said. “The UK veterinary service and cattle industry have many more mechanisms in place to identify, contain and control disease.”

“There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity,” said Ian McWatt, the Director of Operations in Food Standards Scotland. “Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place.”

In the U.S., the last verified case of mad cow disease was in Florida in August, according to Reuters.

This is the first case of BSE on U.K. soil since 2015, according to the BBC.

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iStock/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- During a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shared a message from Kim Jong Un: Please come to North Korea.

Moon and the pope met behind closed doors in the Apostolic Palace, with South Korean priest Han Hyun-taek serving as an interpreter, shortly after noon local time.

After their meeting on Thursday, the office of the South Korean president said in a statement that a formal invitation to Pyongyang from Kim would follow the more informal message delivered by Moon.

"If the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go," the pope responded, according to the South Koreans.

Moon's seeking a papal endorsement of the continued efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula. The South Korean president also met with the Vatican’s chief diplomat, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to whom Moon reiterated his desire for a peaceful resolution.

Parolin on Wednesday celebrated with a "Mass for Peace" at St. Peter’s Basilica where the leaders prayed for the "gift of peace after years of tension and divisions," South Korean media reported.

Moon spoke at the end of the service, saying the prayers offered at the mass would be welcomed.

The South Korean president has helped spearhead an accelerated effort to normalize relations between the two Koreas, meeting with Kim three times this year, including at a summit in Pyongyang.

Kim told Moon during their most recent meeting that he wished for the pope to visit North Korea, according to the Blue House, South Korea's presidential office and residence.

The Vatican previously has said a papal trip to North Korea may first require the nation to incorporate changes such as allowing for freedom of religion.

The pope has visited South Korea, but no pontiff has ever been to North Korea, which has very few practicing Christians. Pope Francis also is planning to visit Japan early next year.

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iStock/rThinkstock(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- The three top Afghan government officials in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, were killed and two Americans wounded Thursday in an attack by a man wearing an Afghan military uniform.

Killed in the attack on Thursday were Kandahar's governor, Zalmai Wessa; its police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq; and its intelligence chief, Abdul Mohmin. Kandahar Province is in the south of the country, bordering Pakistan.

Two Americans were wounded in the crossfire, a military service member and a civilian. A third person, a contractor who is not American, was also wounded. They were medically evacuated and are reported to be in stable condition.

The attack at the governor's compound in Kandahar occurred shortly after a meeting there attended by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller. Miller was one his way to his helicopter when the attack occurred. He was uninjured in the incident.

The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the incident, said Miller had been a target. But the head of Afghanistan's army, Gen. Mohammad Yaftali, said at a news conference that the target was the police chief, Raziq.

"There was a situation at the Kandahar palace today," said Col. David Butler, spokesman for U.S. Forces Afghanistan "Initial reports indicate Afghan officials were the targets."

"Initial reports also say the attacker is dead," said Butler.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi warned of increasing efforts to silence the media in the Middle East in a column he wrote just before he vanished earlier this month. The "final column" was published online Wednesday.

Karen Attiah, global opinions editor for The Washington Post, wrote that Khashoggi’s translator sent the article a day after the journalist disappeared while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and the government, was visiting the embassy to fill out for paperwork for his impending marriage. His future wife was waiting for him in the car outside.

Officials in Turkey believe Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate, but his death has not been confirmed. The Saudi government has denied any involvement.

“The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen,” Attiah wrote Wednesday. “This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. “I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.”

The column was published in Thursday's paper.

Attiah said the article, titled “What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” was the perfect example of the writer’s “commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world,” a freedom she said he “apparently gave his life for.”

Khashoggi noted how some journalists were imprisoned for speaking out against Arab governments as leaders exercised an apparent “free rein” to silence the media.

“My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment,” Khashoggi wrote. “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who fled for the U.S. amid the rise of the crown prince, praised Tunisia as the only “free” nation in the Arab world and Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait as “partly free.”

“The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as ‘not free,’” he wrote. “A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

“Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face,” he added.

President Donald Trump ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance, but he seemed to side with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, who has denied responsibility.

“I just spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place. The king firmly denied any knowledge of it,” Trump said Monday. “I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.”

The president was forced to address the issue again on Wednesday after his previous comments sparked backlash and questions about his ties to Saudi Arabia. When asked on Wednesday if he was covering up for bin Salman, Trump said: “No, not at all, I just want to find out what's happening.”

He said he expects to have more intelligence by the end of the week.`

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Subscribe To This Feed -- In his first sit-down interview with U.S. media, a close friend of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who disappeared after being seen entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago, described to ABC News what he'd been told in briefings by Turkish security officials.

"I talked with some Turkish government and security officials and they said Jamal was killed. I didn't know what to do. I really couldn't answer. Then I called a few colleagues, again security officials, trying to have them verify it, saying 'Is this really true?'" Turan Kislakci said Wednesday. "They said, 'Yes, Turan, and let's tell you even beyond that, he was killed in a very barbaric way.' I was shocked. They not only kill him in the consulate, but also in a barbaric way."

Khashoggi, who has written critically about the Saudi government, reportedly told his fiancée to call two people if he ever got into trouble. One of those individuals was his close friend Kislakci.

Khashoggi, who had been living in the U.S., was visiting the consulate on Oct. 2 to file paperwork for his wedding. He has not been seen since. Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed, which the Saudis have fiercely denied.

Turkish officials say 15 Saudis flew to Istanbul for just hours surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance, and they reportedly claim to have audio recordings of Khashoggi being interrogated and murdered.

When Kislakci was asked by ABC News about repeated claims that there is proof that Khashoggi was killed and that an audio recording exists, he said that security officials said they had audio.

"They said, 'We have audio on this. We know all the details about what transpired.' They said, 'We were able to access this the first day, and we have various other evidence on this,'" he said.

He said the tapes reveal that when Khashoggi walked into the consulate, he was given a document to sign but refused. He then was killed.

"I still want to wish and hope that he is alive and so on," Kislakci told ABC News. "Unfortunately, this kind of news which related with his killing in a barbaric way is coming out."

The New York Times reported that Turkish authorities said the audio tapes indicate Khashoggi was then beheaded and dismembered.

Kislakci said he didn't want to know the gruesome detail but he said he believes much of what has been reported is correct.

Turkish authorities say that Khashoggi's body was then taken to the official residency of the Saudi consul general. It's about a mile from the consular building. Turkish forensic investigators are said to be combing through the grounds.

Turkish officials released to a Turkish newspaper images of 15 Saudis that they say traveled to Istanbul the day that Khashoggi went missing. The New York Times said that among the Saudis named is an autopsy expert.

The Times also reported that several of the suspects have ties to the Saudi crown prince.

Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was allegedly in Istanbul the day Khashoggi went missing. Mutreb was seen in Boston within a few feet of the crown prince in March. A month later, both of the men were seen in Houston and later that month they were seen traveling together in Madrid.

When asked Wednesday whether he was providing cover for the Saudis in Khashoggi's disappearance, President Donald Trump said: "No, not at all. I just want to find out what's happening."

He said that he expected to know who is at fault for Khashoggi’s alleged murder “by the end of the week.”

"With that being said, Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East," Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu Wednesday but refused to express any doubt or skepticism about the legitimacy of a Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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