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News Wrap: Christmas Celebrations Around the World

December 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Celebrations began around the world on this Christmas Eve. Bethlehem– the traditional birthplace of Jesus– was aglow with huge light displays, as thousands of pilgrims gathered outside the Church of the Nativity. Officials said the turnout could be the largest in 10 years.

Elsewhere, Pope Benedict, the XVI, held an evening mass at the Vatican. Security was tight a day after parcel bombs were sent to two foreign embassies in Rome.

Christmas Eve was anything but a time of celebration for thousands of air travelers in Europe. A new round of snow and ice caused new delays, just as problems from earlier in the week had begun to clear. At Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, planes sat on the tarmac today after a shortage of de-icer fluid cut takeoffs in half. Beds and blankets were brought out, but for many people, there was no end to the frustration.

MARIO JAKOPEC, Croatian Traveler (translated): This is the third day we have waited in the airport. We waited for six hours today just to get to the Air France information desk. They have promised us a flight for tomorrow, but tonight we are just on a waiting list. We’ll wait and see. We might have a hotel for tonight. We’ll have to wait after tonight’s flight leaves. There it is, we are enjoying our Christmas Eve.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Airports in Dublin, Ireland and Brussels, Belgium also ran short of de- icing fluid in the unexpected cold.

In Pakistan, about 150 militants launched simultaneous assaults on five security posts in the northwest. The coordinated raids happened in the Mohmand tribal area, near the Afghan border. The ensuing firefights with government troops lasted for hours. Pakistani officials reported 11 soldiers and two dozen insurgents were killed.

India’s financial capital, Mumbai, was on high alert today as police searched for four men believed to be plotting a terror attack. The police commissioner said they were already in the city. Militants based in Pakistan carried out the 2008 Mumbai siege that killed 166 people. Police said the four men being sought today belong to the same group.

Those are some of the day’s major stories. Now, back to Margaret.