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The Week in Pictures: Dec. 11 - 18

A tango for Pope Francis, Sydney under siege, California gets much needed rain, Maasai warriors jump high, and more.

 / Updated 14 PHOTOS
Image: Police Hostage Situation Developing In Sydney

Hostages flee with their hands up from the Lindt Cafe during a standoff on Dec. 15, in Sydney, Australia. Police stormed the cafe on Monday, ending a 16-hour seiege by a gunman and self-professed sheik. The gunman was killed and two of 17 hostages suffered fatal injuries.

Joosep Martinson / Getty Images AsiaPac
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Image: Romanians Commemorate 25th Anniversary of 1989 Revolution

A young Romanian woman kisses a candle she just lit in memory of those who died during the 1989 anti-communist uprising, at the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral, in Timisoara, Romania, on Dec. 17. In December Romanians pay their respects to the 1989 activists who sparked the revolution that toppled Eastern Europe's most repressive Communist regime 25 years ago. More than 1,000 people were killed across Romania during clashes between demonstrators and forces loyal to then dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Robert Ghement / EPA
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A couple dances tango in front of St. Peter's Square to celebrate Pope Francis' 78th birthday at the Vatican, on Dec. 17. Hundreds of tango dancers from all over the world gathered just next to St. Peter's Square for a milonga.

GALLERY: Pope Francis Celebrates 78th Birthday with Cake, Mate and Tango

Gregorio Borgia / AP
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Image: TOPSHOTS-PORTUGAL-SURF-WAVES

An unidentifyed surfer rides a wave off Praia do Norte in Nazare, central Portugal on Dec. 11.

Francisco Leong / AFP
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People use kayaks and a canoe to make their way around a flooded parking lot at a shopping center on Dec. 11, in Healdsburg, Calif. A powerful storm churned through Northern California, knocking out power to tens of thousands and delaying commuters while soaking the region with much-needed rain.

Eric Risberg / AP
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Image: *** BESTPIX *** Large Winter Storm Continues To Bring Heavy Rains And High Winds To Southern California

Homes are covered with rocks and mud after a powerful storm lashed northern California on Dec. 12, in Camarillo Springs, Calif. About two dozen homes were severely damage in a heavy pre-dawn downpour. Although water from the storm lowers the risk of wildfires and offers some short-term relief from the record drought conditions that are menacing the state, weather experts say it amounts to only a very small step toward ending the drought.

David Mcnew / Getty Images North America
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Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in a shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 16. Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing 132 children and 10 teachers, in the latest militant violence to hit the already troubled region.

GALLERY: Taliban Gunmen Lay Siege to School in Pakistan

Mohammad Sajjad / AP
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Image: Women mourn their relative Mohammed Ali Khan, a student who was killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, at his house in Peshawar

Women mourn their relative Mohammed Ali Khan, 15, a student who was killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, at his house in Peshawar Dec. 16. Taliban gunmen broke into a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years.

GALLERY: Families Grieve For Pakistani Students Killed in Massacre

Zohra Bensemra / X90036
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Image: Cho Hyun-ah, daughter of chairman of Korean Air Lines, appears in front of the media outside the offices of the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board in Seoul

Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, daughter of chairman of Korean Air Lines, appears in front of the media outside the offices of the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board, in Seoul on Dec. 12. Cho, 40, was an executive at South Korea's flag carrier in charge of in-flight service until she quit this week, and has been removed from all posts at affiliate companies. On Dec. 19, while at New York's John F. Kennedy airport, seated in first class on a South Korea-bound flight, she was displeased with being served macadamia nuts in a bag and not a dish. She ordered a senior crew member off the plane, forcing it to return to the gate.

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Image: Australia seeking answers over security lapse on cafe gunman

A man arrives with flowers in Martin Place in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 18. Tens of thousands paid tribute to the two victims of the Martin Place siege.

Nikki Short / AAP
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A Maasai warrior makes the high jump, in which athletes must touch a high line with the top of their heads, at the annual Maasai Olympics in the Sidai Oleng Wildlife Sanctuary near to Mt. Kilimanjaro, in southern Kenya on Dec. 13. Maasai men and women from the Amboseli and Tsavo region compete for medals and prizes in the event which aims for a sports competition of Maasai skills such as running, jumping, and throwing, to replace lion-hunting as the traditional warrior activity.

GALLERY: Kenya's Maasai Warriors Scrap Lion Hunt for Olympics

Ben Curtis / AP
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Image: Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims reach out to touch the tomb of Imam al-Abbas located inside the Imam al-Abbas shrine to mark Arbain in the holy city of Kerbala

Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims reach out to touch the tomb of Imam al-Abbas located inside the Imam al-Abbas shrine to mark Arbain in the holy city of Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad on Dec.13. Iraqi officials say millions of Shi'ite pilgrims from across Iraq and neighbouring countries are expected in Kerbala for Saturday's Arbain ritual, which marks the last of 40 days mourning for the death 1,300 years ago of Imam Hussein.

Stringer/iraq / X80014
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Image: TOPSHOTS-THAILAND-SOUTH-WEATHER-FLOODS

Thai women wade through floodwaters after heavy rains triggered flash floods in Narathiwat, Thailand, on Dec. 18. Parts of southern Thailand have experienced floods in recent days after heavy rains hit the region.

Madaree Tohlala / AFP
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Image: Ava Exelbirt

Ava Exelbirt hugs one of the remaining horses at the Masterpiece Equestrian Center in Davie, Fla., on Dec. 16. Ava lost the horse she rode to poisoned feed on Monday. There's nothing that can be done to save 18 poisoned horses at a Florida equestrian center, so their young riders are holding "spa days" to brush their manes and tails, paint their hooves, feed them hay and pet their noses to keep the animals comfortable in their last days.

The Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed that monensin, a type of food additive that is toxic to horses, was present in food manufacturing company Lakeland Animal Nutrition's food. Four horses at the center have died since October because of the contaminated feed, and the owners of the rest are struggling to accept the approaching deaths of the others.

Vote for the best image from this week

J Pat Carter / AP
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