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The Palestinian militant group Hamas marked the one-year anniversary of the Israeli military incursion into Gaza by blasting air raid sirens, observers said.
But only about 3,000 Hamas members turned out Sunday for a commemoration of the losses suffered in Operation Cast Lead, which began Dec. 27, 2008, the Voice of America reported.
Instead, VOA said, the Palestinian public mainly ignored the event, walking down streets and speeding by in cars as usual.
Operation Cast Lead killed 1,400 Palestinians, Hamas says, while 13 Israeli soldiers also died. Israeli leaders say it was an exercise in self defense after enduring years of rocket attacks launched from Gaza while Hamas and United Nations observers contend Israel committed war crimes in the incursion.
VOA said the fighting left Gaza even poorer than it was before, as buildings destroyed in the attack remain rubble due to the economic blockade Jerusalem has imposed on the Palestinian enclave since Hamas gained control in 2007. VOA said Israel bans the importation of concrete into Gaza for fear Hamas will use it to build a military infrastructure.
Added December 30, 2009 with 11 photos
Added December 30, 2009 with 28 photos
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- An explosion Tuesday near the home of former Afghan Vice President Ahmad Zia Massoud in Kabul killed eight people but Massoud was unharmed, authorities said. The blast also wounded 40 others, CNN reported.

The attack came a day after militants killed 15 police officers at checkpoints in two Afghan provinces.

A BBC report called the latest incident a suicide bomb attack. It occurred near a hotel in the Wazir Akbar Khan district in the Afghan capital, home to several aid agencies and embassies.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was quoted as saying two bodyguards were among those killed.

The explosion went off shortly before Karzai inaugurated a three-day conference on corruption. Karzai is under pressure from Western allies to crack down on rampant government corruption.

Massoud, now an opposition leader, is the brother of anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who died in a suicide bomb attack in 2001.

The New York Times, quoting the Afghan Interior Ministry, said those killed included four women.

A Massoud aide was quoted as saying the former vice president was unharmed. The aide said the target of the attack may have been the Heetal Hotel, which is frequented by foreigners, the Times reported.

There have been a number of attacks in Kabul in recent weeks including a Taliban assault on a U.N. guesthouse in October that killed five U.N. workers and three others.

Added December 14, 2009 with 23 photos
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Clashes between security forces and protesters reportedly continue in Tehran where demonstrations meshed with public commemoration plans.

Each December Iran marks the killing of three students by the government led by the shah. However, this year's events have been co-opted by opponents of the current government to stage protests.

Exactly what is occurring in Tehran cannot be verified because of government bans on outside media reporting on the situation.

Word has leaked out, again unconfirmed, that Iranian officials used tear gas to break up rallies Sunday and Monday.

The 1953 demonstrations were marked with cries of "Death to the Shah" while the 21st-century version hears "Death to the Dictator," in an apparent reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His government has been tamping down vocal protest since last summer's election, which some people in the country said was far from fair.

Added December 04, 2009 with 6 photos
Added December 03, 2009 with 20 photos
Added December 01, 2009 with 34 photos
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