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A Look At The Top News Stories Of 2013

posted 15 Dec 2013, 10:30 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Dec 2013, 10:31 ]

A look back at the world's top news stories from September to December in 2013.

GIGLIO, ITALY (SEPTEMBER 3, 2013) (REUTERS) - SEPTEMBER: Salvage teams begin hauling the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship upright on the Italian island of Giglio on Monday (September 16).

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Salvage experts started the rotation of the ship on Monday (September 16) at around 0900 (0700g), the ship was finally laid to rest on an underwater mattress on Tuesday morning (September 17) at around 0400 (0200g).

Domnica Cemortan, a young Moldovan woman who was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia with captain Francesco Schettino when the cruiseliner hit a reef and capsized, on Tuesday (October 29) testified in his trial, admitting that she had had an affair with him.

Gunmen stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday (September 21) killing at least 20 people in what Kenya's government said could be a terrorist attack, and sending scores fleeing into shops, a cinema and onto the streets in search of safety.

Sporadic gun shots could be heard hours after the assault started as soldiers surrounded the mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting down the attackers shop by shop. Some local television stations reported hostages had been taken, but there was no official confirmation.

Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group said on Tuesday (September 24) its militants were still holed up in a Kenyan shopping mall they attacked at the weekend and there were "countless dead bodies", raising fears the death toll could be higher than 62.

Kenyan security forces were searching for the al Qaeda-linked attackers who are believed by Western sources to include Americans and possibly a British woman who may be the widow of a suicide bomber who took part in a big attack in Londonin 2005. Al Shabaab rejected suggestions that foreigners were involved.

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, blasted international sanctions against Iran on Tuesday (September 24), comparing them to the widely criticized punitive measures against Iraq while the late Saddam Hussein was in power.

Speaking just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the annual gathering of world leaders, Rouhani said he was prepared to engage in nuclear talks and did not seek to increase tensions with the United States.

Rouhani met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday (September 26) at the U.N. headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Syria and other regional issues were discussed, including chemical and nuclear weapons, humanitarian efforts, human rights and climate change.

OCTOBER: The leader of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn partyNikolaos Mihaloliakos, appeared before an investigating magistrate on Wednesday (October 2) to answer charges of founding and belonging to a criminal organization, after being arrested following the killing of an anti-fascist rapper.

The party leader was brought to court under heavy police guard, with armed and masked police from the anti-terrorism squad surrounding him as he was led into themagistrate's office.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday (October 1) blamed Republicans for an "ideological crusade" aimed at his healthcare program and urged lawmakers to vote to keep government operations running and to raise the nation's borrowing cap without conditions.

The president also warned Republicans against using a crucial mid-October deadline to raise the government's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling as leverage to try to reverse the health care law or achieve other political objectives.

New York's iconic Statue of Liberty was closed on Tuesday (October 1) after theU.S. government partially shut down for the first time in 17 years.

A standoff between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over healthcare reforms closed many government offices, museums and national parks and slowed everything from trade negotiations to medical research.

Choppy seas prevented divers on Saturday (October 5) from recovering more bodies of migrants who died in a shipwreck off Sicily that has killed an estimated 300, in one of the worst disasters of Europe's immigration crisis.

The 111 recovered bodies were placed inside a hanger used as a temporary morgue.

Italy's coast guard on Monday (October 7) said officers had intercepted yet another migrant vessel off Sicily.

Video released by the coast guard showed the migrants arriving in Sicily's town of Syracuse on Sunday (October 6) on board a coast guard vessel and being helped to disembark in port.

Italian rescue teams braved rough seas on Monday (October 7) as they continued the gruesome search for bodies of migrants still trapped in and around their boat that sank off the island of Lampedusa.

Guardia di Finanza video has been released showing divers searching in and around the wreck, perched on the sea floor no more than half a mile off shore. So far 194 bodies have been recovered.

NOVEMBER: The strongest typhoon in the world this year and possibly the most powerful ever to hit land smashed into the Philippines on Friday (November 8), forcing more than a million people to flee, flooding villages and raising fears of widespread casualties.

Haiyan, a category-5 super typhoon, scoured the northern tip of Cebu province and headed northwest towards Boracay island, both tourist destinations, after lashing the central islands of Leyte and Samar with 275-kph (170 mph) wind gusts and 5-6 metre (15-19 ft) waves.

Newly released video filmed by an aid worker as typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines last Friday (November 8) shows the tsunami like power of its storm surge.

Plan Philippines Community Development Worker Nickson Gensis was in Eastern Samar as the storm approached.

Survivors began rebuilding homes destroyed by one of the world's most powerful typhoons and emergency supplies flowed into ravaged Philippine islands on Saturday (November 16), as the United Nations more than doubled its estimate of people made homeless to nearly two million.

A handful of forensic experts raced against time to identify bodies at a mass grave in Tacloban on Monday (November 18) after Super Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands in the Philippines.

The search for bodies was almost complete on Sunday (November 24) after the collapse of a supermarket in Latvian capital Riga.

Rescuers just wanted to be sure there were no bodies in certain places, though the areas had been searched before the third collapse a day ago, interior ministry spokeswoman Daiga Holma said.

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis explained that he had a "moral and political responsibility" to resign after the collapse of a supermarket roof that killed 54 people last week, plunging the Baltic state into turmoil weeks ahead of its entry into the euro zone.

The departure of the Latvia's longest-serving premier brought down its centre-right government, a measure of the scale of the political uproar triggered by the tragedy in Riga.

Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough deal early on Sunday (November 24) to curb Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in what could be the first sign of an emerging rapprochement between the Islamic state and the West.

Aimed at ending a dangerous standoff, the agreement between Iran and the United StatesFranceGermany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of tortuous negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

Halting Iran's most sensitive nuclear work, it was designed as a package of confidence-building steps to ease decades of tensions and confrontation and banish the spectre of a Middle East war over Tehran's nuclear aspirations.

New clashes broke out in Kiev on Monday night (November 25) between pro-EU demonstrators and Ukrainian riot police, hours after President Viktor Yanukovichacted to defuse the street protests and jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenkodeclared an "unlimited hunger strike."

Earlier, Yanukovich said on national television that a decision to suspend moves towards a trade pact with the European Union had been difficult and he vowed to bring "European standards" to the country.

Crowds toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital and attacked it with hammers on Sunday (December 8) in the latest mass protests against President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans for closer ties withRussia.

Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi gave an emotional speech to thousands of supporters on Wednesday (November 27) moments before he was expelled from the Senate.

Among the cheering crowds, his fiancee Francesca Pascale was seen smiling in the front row.

The Italian senate on Wednesday (November 27) expelled Berlusconi from parliament following his conviction for tax fraud, in what Berlusconi called a day of mourning for Italian democracy.

The senate floor did not hold a formal vote, but merely rejected a series of challenges by Berlusconi's supporters to the recommendation for his expulsion issued last month by a senate panel.

DECEMBER: Thailand's anti-government protest leader addressed supporters who marched from various parts of the capital to the Government House on Monday (December 9) in a final push to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her administration.

Earlier, before the march started, Yingluck announced the dissolution of parliament.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully on Thursday (December 5) at his Johannesburg home, and he will be accorded a state funeral and national flags will be lowered to half mast.

As thousands of people queued on Wednesday (December 11) to say goodbye toNelson Mandela, whose body was lying in state in Pretoria, hundreds more were able to follow the proceedings from various television screens around the country.