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The Week in Pictures | December 14 – 21, 2014

Each week we bring you the very best in visual journalism. Tragic news out of Pakistan this week, where Taliban militants stormed an army-run school, killing 132 children and nine staff members, many of whom were shot in the head. Hundreds of teachers and students were held hostage during an hours-long gun battle with security forces.

Sydney, Australia: A woman places flowers for the victims of Martin Place siege.

In Southern California, Michael Pless, a.k.a. Surfing Santa,  catches a wave at the Seal Beach pier in his specially fitted Santa wetsuit, while further south in Rio de Janeiro, Santa descends on a zip-line after riding up Sugar Loaf mountain atop a cable car. Ho, ho, ho.

Tel Aviv, Israel: A woman and child take a selfie in front of a giant illuminated menorah at Tel Aviv’s port.

Bethlehem, West Bank: A Christian man touches the silver star marking the place where Jesus Christ was born, according to Christian tradition, in the Grotto in the Church of the Nativity.

Himmelpfort, Germany: Santa Claus looks through a window of a home, where he entertained 20 children who had sent him wish lists to have a pre-Christmas party. About 293,000 wish lists were sent to the Christmas post office this year.

Val d’Isere, France: Lindsey Vonn of the USA team trains for the Women’s Downhill race at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup.

Narathiwat, Thailand: Thai villagers watch an Indonesia’s tanker run aground carrying 2.7 million gallons of palm oil off southern Thailand after being hijacked and then recaptured by authorities.

Gazipur, Bangladesh: Bangladeshi children covered in mud to look like freedom fighters attend a rally during the country’s 43rd Victory Day celebration.

Dundee, South Africa: Zulu dancers prepare to perform during a Boer War memorial held at the site of the Battle of Blood River.

Add stops in London, Tokyo, Prague, Russia, France, Switzerland and Turkey to round out the report.