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Palestinians mourn dead after Gaza-Israel border clash

Thompson Reuters

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GAZA CITY — Dozens of Palestinian youths gathered by the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday, though the area remained mostly quiet, a day after deadly violence broke out in one of the biggest Palestinian demonstrations there in years.

At least 17 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces confronting protesters on Friday, some of whom the military said had opened fire, rolled burning tyres and hurled rocks and fire bombs toward troops across the border.

Thousands in Gaza marched through the streets at funerals for those killed.

In the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, residents said Israeli troops fired warning shots towards a crowd of youths, some of whom burnt tyres.

Health officials said two people were wounded and an Israeli military spokesman said he was checking the details.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Saturday a national day of mourning and a general strike was called across the occupied West Bank.

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Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered on Friday along the fenced 65 kilometre frontier, where tents were erected for a planned six-week protest pressing for a right of return for refugees and their descendents to what is now Israel.

The Israeli military estimated there were 30,000 people.

Families brought their children to the encampments just a few hundred metres from the Israeli security barrier with the Islamist Hamas-run enclave.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised Israel’s security forces after the killings of 17 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, just as condemnation over the Israeli army’s use of live ammunition against protesters grows.

In a statement on Saturday, Netanyahu thanked his troops for ‘guarding the country’s borders’ and allowing ‘Israeli citizens to celebrate the [Passover] holiday peacefully’.

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Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely

Thompson Reuters

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COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.

The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.

“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.

 

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