Times 2

Global party, Africa violence mark 2011 start

NEW YORK, Jan 1 (AFP) - About a million people crammed today into New York's Times Square to greet 2011 in a global New Year's party featuring spectacular fireworks but marred by bloodshed in Africa.
Celebrations kicked off in the Pacific and continued in a non-stop, globe-girdling chain of street parties and fireworks.

Times Square was one of the last big bashes, following joyful gatherings at world landmarks including the London Eye, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, the Champs-Elysees in Paris and Red Square in Moscow.
New York crowds, monitored by a heavy police presence, watched the famous slow drop of a six ton ball comprising 32,256 LED lights and 2,688 Waterford crystals to signal the end of 2010 and start of the new year.

Worldwide parties began in the Pacific Ocean and spread across Oceania, Asia and the Middle East before the clocks turned midnight across Europe from Moscow to Reykjavik, and then across the Atlantic to the Americas.

But the party mood was spoiled in Africa. In the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, at least seven people died and 24 were injured in an attack on a church as worshippers left a service at around half an hour after midnight. Witnesses reported a burnt-out car outside.

And in Nigeria a bomb killed four and wounded 12 at a market inside the Abacha military barracks in Abuja, a popular spot for food and drink in the Nigerian capital on New Year's Eve. There was also a sour note in Russia, where President Dmitry Medvedev promised an “open and friendly” country, but police marked the night by arresting some 120 Kremlin opponents at rallies in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
In Europe, the London Eye wheel was lit up by a colorful firework salvo as an expected 250,000 people lined the River Thames embankments.

In the Middle East, Dubai stole the show on the Arabian peninsula with an unprecedented spectacle at the world's tallest building. The Burj Khalifa was the centre of attention with a spectacular laser, lights, fountains and fireworks show which marked the 828-metre (2,717-foot) tower's first anniversary.
Then the party in the Americas got off with Rio de Janeiro, which staged a music and fireworks spectacular on the beach.

But honours for first party went to the 6,000 residents of the tiny Pacific nation of Kiribati, while New Zealand's Auckland was the first to party with a major fireworks extravaganza.

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