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World News: Russian Airliner Crash; India Mourns Rape Victim; Japan Rethinking Nuclear Ban

By: AP
By: AP
Kashmiri Sikh students protesting against the brutal gang-rape of a woman on a bus last week in New Delhi, shout slogans in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged Thursday to take action to protect the nation's women while the young victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus was flown to Singapore for treatment of severe internal injuries. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Kashmiri Sikh students protesting against the brutal gang-rape of a woman on a bus last week in New Delhi, shout slogans in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged Thursday to take action to protect the nation's women while the young victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus was flown to Singapore for treatment of severe internal injuries. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

MOSCOW (AP) -- A passenger airliner careered off the runway at Russia's third-busiest airport and partly onto a highway while landing on Saturday, broke into pieces and caught fire, killing at least four people.
Officials said there were eight people aboard the Tu-204 belonging to Russian airline Red Wings that was flying back from the Czech Republic without passengers to its home at Vnukovo Airport.
Emergency officials said in a televised news conference that four people were killed and another four severely injured when the plane rolled off the runway into a snowy field and partly onto an adjacent highway, then disintegrated. No collisions with vehicles on the major, multilane highway were reported.
The plane's cockpit area was sheared off from the fuselage and the tail section partly torn away.
The crash occurred amid snow and winds gusting up to 15 meters a second (30 mph), but other details were not immediately known. A spokesman for Russia's top investigative agency, Vladimir Markin, said initial indications were that pilot error was the cause.
The state news agency RIA Novosti cited an unidentified official at the Russian Aviation Agency as saying another Red Wings Tu-204 had gone off the runway at the international airport in Novosibirsk in Siberia on Dec. 20. The agency said that incident, in which no one was injured, was due to the failure of the plane's engines to go into reverse upon landing and that its brake system malfunctioned.
On Friday, the Aviation Agency sent a directive to the Tupolev company's president calling for it to take urgent preventive measures.
The plane that crashed Saturday took off from Pardubice airport in the Czech Republic. Jan Anderlik, the director of the company that operates the airport, told Czech public television that the plane underwent a regular technical check before takeoff and no problems were discovered.
Prior to Saturday's crash, there had been no fatal accidents reported for Tu-204s, which entered commercial service in 1995. The plane is a twin-engine midrange jet with a capacity of about 210 passengers.
The Red Wings airline is one of the holdings of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who also owns the British newspapers The Independent and the Evening Standard.
Vnukovo, on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is one of the Russian capital's three international airports.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Government officials say 21 tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban have been found shot dead in northwest Pakistan.
Naveed Akbar Khan says officials found the bodies shortly after midnight on Sunday after being notified by one policeman who had escaped. Another policeman was also found seriously wounded.
Khan says the slain policemen were found in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar, part of Pakistan's troubled tribal region. Khan is a senior political official in the area.
The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- A government official says a bomb has struck a pair of buses carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwest Pakistan, killing four people.
Zubair Ahmed said the attack Sunday in Baluchistan province's Mastung district wounded another 15 people, including three women. The bomb was strapped to a motorcycle and detonated by remote control. One bus was almost completely destroyed. The other was damaged.
Ahmed said the buses were coming from neighboring Iran, a majority Shiite country and popular destination for religious pilgrims.
Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. Many attacks have occurred in Baluchistan, believed to be a hiding place for senior Afghan Taliban commanders and also the site of a decades-long insurgency by nationalists.

NEW DELHI (AP) -- The body of a young woman who was gang-raped and brutally beaten on a moving bus in India's capital has been cremated.
Indian police have charged six men with murder in the Dec. 16 attack, which shocked the country and triggered protests for greater protection for women from sexual violence.
The murder charges were laid Saturday, hours after the woman died in a Singapore hospital, where she had been flown for treatment.
Her body was cremated in a private ceremony Sunday in New Delhi soon after its arrival from Singapore on a special Air-India flight.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, were at the airport to receive the body and meet family members of the victim who had also arrived on the flight.

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- An Egyptian security official says that thousands of tons of building materials such as cement and steel are crossing into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which had previously been under a strict blockade.
He said the move was made in consultation with Israeli officials, who were in Cairo Thursday to discuss security in the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire signed by Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel last month.
The Egyptian official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The director of Gaza's border authority, Maher Abu Sabha, confirmed to The Associated Press that 20 trucks of material are expected to enter the coastal strip on Saturday through the Rafah crossing. Qatar is paying for the raw materials, which were bought in Egypt.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan authorities say they have deported a man they describe as a French intelligence agent who was jailed for alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate President Hugo Chavez.
Prisons minister Iris Varela announced the expulsion of Frederic Laurent Bouquet in a Twitter message Saturday. Varela says Bouquet was arrested on June 18, 2009, and confessed that he came to Venezuela to assassinate Chavez. She says he was caught with weapons.
Varela has offered no other details on the case. It's unclear if the man was ever formally charged.

FUKUSHIMA DAI-ICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, Japan (AP) -- Japan's newly installed prime minister has visited the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, site of the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Shinzo Abe's visit Saturday to the plant comes amid pledges from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review the country's plans to phase out nuclear power.
A massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, swamped parts of the Fukushima plant, disabling backup systems and triggering radiation-spewing meltdowns that forced tens of thousands of people to flee. The disaster triggered massive protests against atomic energy.
The LDP regained power in elections this month and plans to spend 10 years studying the best energy mix for Japan. Abe has said he may reconsider the previous government's decision to stop building reactors.


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