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Middle East

Clerics in brawl at Bethlehem

A Christmas cleaning of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem descended into violence as scuffles broke out between rival Christian clerics zealously guarding denominational turf at the holy site.

Brooms and fists flew inside the church marking the birthplace of Jesus as some 100 priests and monks of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches brawled. Palestinian police rushed in with batons to restore order in the Holy Land's oldest church. "It was a trivial problem that occurs every year," said police Lt-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi.