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14 incredible winners from this year's World Press Photo competition

The best photography of 2014.

PastedImage-18161 Source: Mads Nissen via World Press Photo

THIS IMAGE OF a Russian gay couple, taken in St Petersburg last year, was named the best press photo of 2014 during the week.

But it wasn’t the only winner in the prestigious World Press Photo competition.

Here are more of the powerful pictures taken by the world’s best photojournalists and photographers, all winners in the news categories of the competitions.

Istanbul Protest

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Winner: Spot News, Singles

A young girl was wounded during clashes between riot police and protesters after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during anti-government protests.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in the capital Ankara, while in Istanbul, crowds shouting anti-government slogans lit a huge fire as they made their way to a cemetery for the boy’s burial.

Image: Bulent Kilic, AFP

Rescue Operation

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2nd: General news, singles

Shipwrecked people aboard a boat are rescued 20 miles north of Libya by a frigate of the Italian navy on 7 June 2014. After hundreds of men, women and children had drowned in 2013 off the coast of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government put its navy to work under Operation Mare Nostrum rescuing refugees at sea.

In 2014, 170,081 people were rescued and taken to Italy. More than 42,000 had come from Syria, 34,000 from Eritrea, 10,000 from Mali, 9,000 from Nigeria, as many from Gambia, 6,000 from Palestine, and more than 5,000 from Somalia.

Image: Massimo Sestini, Italy

Ebola in Sierra Leone

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Winner: General news, stories

Medical staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center work to escort a man in the throes of Ebola-induced delirium back into the isolation ward from which he escaped. In a state of confusion, he emerged from the isolation ward and attempted to escape over the back wall of the complex before collapsing in a convulsive state. A complete breakdown of mental facilities is a common stage of advanced Ebola. The man pictured here died shortly after this picture was taken.

Image: Pete Muller, USA

The Dark Heart of Europe

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Winner: Contemporary Issues, stories

Gas supply tubes run along the houses built near the steel factories of Charleroi. Before the electric upgrade of the blast furnace, these tubes used to provide the energy needed for this operation.

Charleroi, a town near Brussels, has experienced the collapse of industrial manufacturing, rising unemployment, increasing immigration and outbreak of micro-criminality. The roads, once fresh and neat, appear today desolated and abandoned, industries are closing down, and vegetation grows in the old industrial districts.

Image: Giovanni Troilo, Italy

Mass Abduction in Nigeria

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2nd: General news, stories

US photographer Glenna Gordon writes, “School uniforms belonging to three of the missing girls.

“In her school notebook, Hauwa Nkeki wrote a letter to her brother:

Dear Brother Nkeki, Million of greetings goes to you thousand to your friend zero to your enemies.

“Hauwa is one of the nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic militants Boko Haram on 14 April 2014 from their school dormitory in Chibok, a remote village in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram’s name translates roughly to “Western Education is Sinful.” The group believes that girls shouldn’t be in school and boys should only learn the Koran.

For the past few years, Boko Haram has been burning villages to the ground, using forced recruitment and carrying out an ongoing insurgency. Many thousands have died and the region has been devastated. No one took much notice before the girls were kidnapped. In May 2014, a hashtag campaign (#BringOurGirlsBack) became viral on Twitter and swept the globe. Within a week, it had attracted over two million tweets. A media frenzy began and coverage of the protests was extensive. But the thing that’s been missing from most of the coverage is the girls themselves.”

Beach Casualties

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2nd: Spot News, singles

Israeli artillery struck a beach in Gaza City during the country’s 50-day war with Hamas in the summer of 2014, killing four young boys and injuring one young adult. Two explosions, separated by about 30 seconds, targeted the area, striking a small shack on a sea wall and then in the open on the sand. Civilians rushed the casualties away from the area, and then ambulances responded to the scene.

Image: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Air Strike on IS Militants

PastedImage-882873rd: Spot News, singles 

Islamic State (IS) group militants stand near an airstrike on Tilsehir hill on the Turkish border with Syria at the village of Yumurtalik, Sanliurfa province, Turkey. After the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani came under assault by the extremist group, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to allow 200 Iraqi Kurd peshmerga fighters to travel through Turkey to come to the town’s defense.

Image: Bulent Kilic/AFP

Crime Without Punishment

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Winner: Spot News, stories

The remains of a passenger from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Under the baking July sun of eastern Ukraine, human remains lay spread over a large area as pro-Russian militiamen brandished their weapons to keep European observers away. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 headed bearing 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on 17 July 2014, apparently by a Russian-made missile.

Image: Jerome Sessini/AFP

Act of Forgiveness

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3rd: Spot News, stories

Prison authorities bring Balal to the scaffold.  Iran has one of the highest rates of executions carried out. Some of these executions are public. In December 2007, Abdollah, a 17-year-old boy, was killed in a street brawl in the Wednesday market in Nour by his childhood friend Balal. Balal was charged with murder and the complicated prosecution took seven years until he was sentenced to death.

Balal was due to be executed by hanging in the early morning of 15 April 2014. But moments before the sun rose, the victim’s mother, Samera Alinejad, decided to pardon Balal by slapping his face instead of pulling the chair from underneath his feet. In Islamic law, executions must be carried out before sunrise. After the images of this act of forgiveness were published, the lives of about 25 other murder convicts were spared.

Image: Arash Khamooshi, Iran

Bosa, Bosa, Bosa!

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3rd: General News, singles

A sub-Saharan migrant hides under a vehicle. He eventually managed to escape. A group of 40 sub-Saharan migrants climbed over the metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Most of them were illegally deported back to Morocco, but 15 of them managed, after collusion with the Spanish police, to enter the country.

Image: Gianfranco Tripodo, Contrasto

Gaza Conflict

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3rd: General News, stories

Two brothers from the El Agha family grieve their father who was killed after shelling in Khan Yunis.

After weeks of rising tensions following the killing of three Israeli teenagers and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager, Israel began a major offensive against Hamas in Gaza on 8 July.

Image: Sergey Ponomarev

Final Fight for Maidan

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2nd: Spot news, stories

A deserted avenue in the Maidan after violent clashes with Ukrainian police.

After several months of violence, anti-government protesters remained mobilized by holding barricades in Kiev’s Independence Square, known simply as the Maidan. On Saturday, 20 February, unidentified snipers opened fire on unarmed protesters as they were advancing on Instituska Street. According to an official source, 70 protesters were shot dead. Ukrainian riot police claimed that several police officers were wounded or shot dead by snipers as well. An unofficial source said that snipers opened fire on the police and protesters at the same time in order to provoke both camps. 20 February was the bloodiest day of the Maidan protests, and two days after, President Viktor Yanukovych left the country.

Image: Jerome Sessini

Kitchen Table

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Winner: General News, singles

Damaged goods lie in a kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Ordinary workers, miners, teachers, pensioners, children, and elderly women and men are in the midst of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Artillery fire killed three people and wounded 10 on 26 August 2014.

Image: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

Winner: This image of a gay couple was the best press photo taken last year

More: People are loving this photographer’s clever mirror image of Poolbeg towers

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