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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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Thai authorities launch search for youth soccer team trapped in cave

AP Associated Press

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BANGKOK — Search and rescue teams on Sunday are looking for a dozen members of a youth soccer team who are missing since late Saturday afternoon, believed to be trapped in a cave in northern Thailand.

Police said local authorities, police and rescue workers were working with divers to find the 12 boys, aged 11-15, and their coach, who are believed to have entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province.

The group were apparently trapped when a heavy storm flooded a stream at the cave’s entrance.

Police Colonel Komsan Saardluan said parts of the cave, which is an estimated 6-8 kilometres long, get flooded to a height of as much as 5 metres during the rainy season, which runs from June through to October.

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Footage on Thai television showed bikes and backpacks left at the cave entrance. ThaiPBS television reported the team members came from various schools in the province and were thought to have been practicing before going to the park where the cave is located.

The search began around midnight on Saturday after police received a report of a missing child from a mother who said her son had not returned from the soccer practice that evening, ThaiPBS reported.

It said the mother last spoke to her son when he told her in the afternoon he was with the group visiting a cave inside the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

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