Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 25th 2015 Contents A21
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The UK and US governments have
issued a warning about possible threats
against Westerners in the Chinese
capital Beijing on or around Christmas
British and US officials say they have
received information of possible threats
in Sanlitun, which is a busy bar and
The Australian and French
governments have also urged their
citizens to remain vigilant.
Beijing police have issued a yellow
security alert in the city.
A yellow alert is the second lowest
level in China's four-level security alert
The alert means there will be
increased security checks in shopping
areas, and rubbish bins in public areas
will be checked every 30 minutes, state
news agency Xinhua reports.
There was an increased police
presence in Sanlitun yesterday, with
armed police deployed outside shopping
Beijing police said in a microblog post
(in Chinese) that they had implemented
the yellow alert in Beijing's large and
medium sized shopping areas to
"maintain social order." (BBC)
Beijing locks down on 'threat to Westerners'
Christian faithful from around the
world descended yesterday on the biblical
city of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve cel-
ebrations at the traditional birthplace of
Jesus, as an outburst of Israeli-Palestinian
violence dampened the typically festive
Bethlehem has been a focal point for
clashes between Israeli troops and Pales-
tinian protesters during the three month-
long wave of violence that has gripped the
region. While the annual festivities in the
city s Manger Square were set to go on,
other celebrations in the city were cancelled
or toned down because of the violence.
"We re in Bethlehem celebrating Christ-
mas, celebrating the birthday of our lord
Jesus Christ. This is the birthplace of the
king of peace so what we want is peace,"
said Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Tourism
Thousands of people were crowding into
Manger Square, admiring the town s Christ-
mas tree and listening to holiday music
played by marching bands and scout troops.
Since mid-September, Palestinian attacks
have killed 20 Israelis, while Israeli fire has
killed 124 Palestinians, among them 85 said
by Israel to be attackers.
The rest were killed in clashes with Israeli
In recent years, Bethlehem had enjoyed
a relative calm and thousands of revellers
and pilgrims poured into Manger Square
each Christmas. But vendors and hotel
owners in the city have already complained
of sagging business this Christmas sea-
Some Palestinians hoped holiday cheer
would replace the gloom. Said Nustas,
dressed in a Santa Claus suit, rang a Christ-
mas bell on a narrow asphalt street as he
prepared to deliver gifts from a toy store
to children nearby.
"The situation is what it is, a war and
intifada," Nustas said. "But God willing,
we ll overcome it and celebrate."
Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal led will lead
worshippers in a Midnight Mass at the
Church of the Nativity, built atop the spot
where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Christians in Bethlehem mark
Christmas amid violence
Fire sweeps through
Saudi hospital killing 25
A fire at a hospital in Saudi Arabia killed 25
people and injured more than 100 others as it
ripped through the intensive care unit and the
maternity ward before dawn, the Saudi civil
defense agency said.
The fire broke out at the general hospital in the
southwestern port city of Jazan, the capital of the
Jizan region, one of Saudi Arabia's poorest areas,
near the Yemeni border.
Saudi Arabia's government-controlled al-
Ekhbariya television interviewed a witness who
said the cause of the fire appeared to be electrical,
and that it swept through the hospital in just
"We could hear the women screaming," said the
man, who was not named.
The 25 dead included one child. (Reuters)
Syria ready to take
part in peace talks
Syria is ready to take part in peace talks in
Geneva and hopes that the dialogue will help it
form a national unity government, Syrian Foreign
Minister Walid al-Moualem said yesterday during
a visit to Beijing.
The UN Security Council last Friday
unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an
international road map for a Syrian peace process,
a rare show of unity among major powers on a
conflict that has claimed more than a quarter of a
The UN plans to convene peace talks in Geneva
toward the end of January.
Moualem, who spoke to reporters in English,
said he had told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
that Syria was "ready to participate in the Syrian-
Syrian dialogue in Geneva without any foreign
"Our delegation will be ready as soon as we
receive a list of the opposition delegation," he said.
"We hope that this dialogue will be successful
to help us in having a national unity government,"
Moualem said, standing next to Wang at the
Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"This government will compose a constitutional
committee to look for a new constitution with a
new law of election so the parliamentary election
will be held within the period of 18 months, more
Wang over the weekend invited Syrian
government and opposition figures to come to
China as it looks to ways to help with the peace
Wang declined to answer directly when asked if
China thought Assad should remain in power or
Emergency crews were assessing
damage yesterday after a storm
system packing high winds and
spawning tornadoes tore through
the southern and central United
States, killing at least eight people
and injuring scores.
The stormy weather scrambled
holiday plans in Florida while north-
eastern states expected unseasonably
warm temperatures. Forecasts indi-
cated New York City would be
warmer than Los Angeles on Christ-
More than 20 tornadoes were
reported on Wednesday in Arkansas,
Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi and
Tennessee, according to the National
A large tornado struck a 100-mile
stretch of northern Mississippi on
Wednesday, demolishing or heavily
damaging dozens of homes and
other buildings in a six-county area
before plowing into Tennessee,
Five people were killed in Mis-
sissippi and 40 were injured, Hall
said. Two died in Tennessee and
one in Arkansas, according to
Severe US storms kill eight
A nun prays inside the Grotto at the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the biblical West Bank
city of Bethlehem, Monday. AP PHOTO
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