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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Israeli president visits Arab town, massacre site

RivlinIsrael's new ceremonial president visited the site of a 1956 massacre Sunday, the first Israeli head of state to do so, as part of his outreach campaign to the country's Arab minority.

Reuven Rivlin became president in July, replacing Nobel laureate Shimon Peres, and has since made improving relations between Jews and Arabs a top focus of his administration. By visiting Kfar Kassem, Rivlin became the first president to attend a memorial ceremony for the 47 Arab civilians shot by Israeli border policemen on the first day of the Israel-Egypt war in 1956.

Rivlin said the massacre was a "sorrowful chapter" in Israeli history, calling it a crime for which Israel has rightfully apologized.

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Dozens killed in attack on Egypt army post

Egyptian army post attackedAn attack on an army checkpoint in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Friday killed at least 25 people, according to state media, making it one of the deadliest attacks on security forces since violence spiked following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi last year.

Two senior military officials said a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the checkpoint at Karm al-Qawadeis, located in the peninsula’s north. But a top military official contradicted those claims, saying the checkpoint was struck by a mortar round and rocket-propelled grenades, which hit a tank carrying explosives and ammunition, which caused a secondary explosion. A fourth official confirmed that account but said a suicide bomber also targeted the post.

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Boko Haram 'abducts dozens more women and girls' in Nigeria

Boko HaramDozens more women and girls have been abducted by Nigerian terror group Boko Haram a day after an apparent ceasefire was announced, it was reported today.

Nigeria's military and president last week raised hopes that 200 schoolgirls snatched by the Islamic militants in April would be returned as a result of the truce.  But fighting has continued and there is still no word as yet on the whereabouts of the teenagers.

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Baby killed and eight wounded in suspected terror attack in Jerusalem

Jerussalem attackA three-month old baby has died and eight other people are wounded – one seriously – in what police believe is a suspected “terrorist attack” after a car was driven onto a pavement crowded with pedestrians alighting from Jerusalem’s light railway.

Video footage posted on social media – and purporting to show the incident – shows a car on the main road slowing slightly before crossing to the train tracks and climbing on to the station pavement and ploughing through the people standing on it.

The Guardian could not confirm its authenticity.

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Soldier shot; gunman enters Canadian parliament, many shots fired

Canadian parliament enteredA gunman shot a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa and was then chased by police into the main parliament building, where at least 30 more shots were fired, according to media and eyewitness reports on Wednesday.

Parliament was locked down and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had left the building safely as police converged on the area.

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Afghan opium poppy yield hits all-time high

Afghan poppy yieldOpium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has hit an all-time high despite years of counter-narcotics efforts that have cost the US $7.6bn (£4.7bn), according to a US government watchdog.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that Afghan farmers grew an “unprecedented” 209,000 hectares (523,000 acres) of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous high of 193,000 hectares in 2007, said John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews attack Jerusalem buses over ad

Ultra orthodox Jews attack busesDozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews hurled stones and slashed the tires of buses bearing ads promoting female worship at a key Jerusalem holy site, Israeli police said Tuesday.

The attack, which happened on Monday night in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood, underscores the still simmering tensions in Israel over religious extremists who want to separate the sexes in public spaces.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police units were dispatched to quell the violence in Mea Shearim where about 50 men slashed tires and pelted the buses with stones.

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