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Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai receives two mln visitors in 86 days

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Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai announced that it received two million visitors in 86 days, nearly 30 percent of the total visitors to Expo since its October opening, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

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The Kingdom’s pavilion celebrated this milestone with fireworks and laser lights, the press agency said.

Last week, Expo 2020 Dubai organizers have recorded more than seven million visits to the site since the launch of the global event, as some activities at the world fair are suspended as a precautionary measure in the wake of the heightened COVID-19 concerns.

Since Expo – the largest major global event to be held since the start of the pandemic – launched on October 1, organizers have clocked 7,167,591 visits to the site in the period up to December 20.

Organizers at Expo 2020 Dubai have announced they will ring in 2022 with a line-up of live activities on December 31, including a music festival featuring two DJs, two fireworks displays and a midnight ‘ball drop’ at al-Wasl Plaza.

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Sunday visited the pavilions of the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“Foreign Minister HH Prince Faisal bin Farhan visits the pavilions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at Expo 2020 on the sidelines of His Highness’ visit to the UAE,” Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet.

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Stampede at Liberian church gathering kills 29

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A stampede has killed at least 29 people at a religious event in the suburbs of the Liberian capital Monrovia, police said on Thursday.

Those who died from the incident include 11 children and a pregnant woman.

The bodies have been taken to the morgue of Redemption Hospital, close to where the incident occurred in a beach area called New Kru Town.

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The stampede erupted when a gang of thugs armed with knives attacked some of the hundreds attending the ceremony at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, police spokesman Moses Carter told The Associated Press.

One person has been arrested, he said.

Local media said it was a Christian prayer gathering, known in Liberia as a “crusade,” held in a football field.

Witness Emmanuel Gray, 26, told AFP he heard “heavy noise” towards the end and saw several dead bodies.

Street gangs have become an increasing problem in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years, according to residents.

President George Weah was expected to visit the scene Thursday, according to Liberian media reports.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is an impoverished country that is still recovering after back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, as well as the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

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US approves ballistic requests to ship US weapons to Ukraine

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The US has approved requests by Baltic nations to ship US-made weapons to Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, officials said Thursday.

A State Department official in Berlin, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken was holding talks on Ukraine, said the US was “expediting authorized transfers of US-origin equipment from other allies.”

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“European allies have what they need to move forward on additional security assistance (to) Ukraine in the coming days and weeks,” the official said.

A source familiar with the authorisations said the approval was for urgent requests by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to assist Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic.

The exact amounts and types of weapons were not specified, but the Baltic nations’ arsenals include Javelins, portable missiles capable of destroying tanks.

Tens of thousands of Russian troops, along with tanks and artillery, have been deployed near the Ukrainian border since late last year, rattling the three Baltic nations, which are members of NATO.

President Joe Biden’s administration since last year has approved $650 million in weapons to Ukraine, $200 million of it last month amid fears of war.

While the Biden administration boasts that the shipments are the most ever by the US, Ukraine has voiced hope for military supplies as quickly as possible, with shipments from nearby countries especially valuable.

Britain has also rushed to support Ukraine, announcing on Monday that it was sending anti-tank weapons.

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Bomb blast in Pakistan’s Lahore kills two, injures 16

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At least two people were killed and 16 injured Thursday by a bomb blast in a busy shopping district of the Pakistani city of Lahore, police said.

“Initial investigations show that it was a time-controlled device on a motorbike which was the cause of the blast,” Rana Arif, spokesman for Lahore police, told AFP.

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