News A policeman and relatives gather around the flag-draped casket of a policeman, who was killed in a bomb attack in Charsadda, on the outskirts of Peshawar

The policemen were guarding polio vaccination workers

High spirits: comedian Pippa Evans, co-founder of the Sunday Assembly

The Week in Comedy: All smiles on Sunday with a radical take on religion

It wasn't your average Advent Sunday service. It started with a rousing chorus of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' and ended with Abba's 'Waterloo'. In between there was a poem dedicated to Tony Wilson, a mini rave and a Danish clapping game. This was Sunday Assembly, a "godless church" which has one aim - to celebrate life. It has all the trappings of a traditional Sunday service – a sermon, songs, readings, community notices, a collection, tea and cakes – but none of the religion. Its only creed is live better, help often, wonder more.

Nigeria eases curfew and boosts security in Maiduguri following attacks by militants

Nigerian authorities relaxed a curfew and intensified military patrols in Maiduguri on Tuesday, a day after suspected Islamist militants launched strikes on military bases in the northeast city.

Parsifal: Opera review

Royal Opera House, London

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif assures Hamid Karzai of peace-talk 'facilitation' after release of senior Taliban leader

Afghanistan considers that Pakistan holds significant influence over Taliban, who are believed to launch attacks from bases in the country

Muqtada al-Sadr has a peerless record of opposing Saddam Hussein

Sadrism deeply divides the Iraqi Shia, many of whom see the movement as having a history of sectarian violence

Protesters burn the US flag in Peshawar yesterday

Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan leads anti-drone protesters in blockade of key Nato supply line

Thousands rally in Peshawar, amid fears the CIA will aim unmanned anti-Taliban strikes deeper into Pakistani territory

Paperback review: Man Belong Mrs Queen, by Matthew Baylis

Growing up in 1980s Southport, Matthew Baylis always felt a sense of solidarity with the gaffe-prone Duke of Edinburgh, who was, like him, “unpopular, posh, misunderstood and mocked”. So when he later learned of a tribe that worshipped Prince Philip as a god, he decided to investigate. Man Belong Mrs Queen tells the story of Baylis’s trip to the Melanesian island of Tanna, where he stays with the “Philippists”, shares their diet of yams and potent narcotics, and tries to get to the bottom of their religion.

Police on guard outside the Peckford Place property yesterday

Lambeth slavery case: Two victims initially 'lived in a collective' with male suspect, police say

Shared 1960s ideology originally led two of the rescued women to move in with male suspect

In England’s attachment to the cult of ‘beat your man’ Andros Townsend is the latest saviour

Kevin Garside: England are handicapped by a culture that struggles to show sufficient pride in the national shirt

There is a huge pride in representation, that by pulling on the jersey you serve

Tickets for the Bush address are available for up to $100,000

George Bush’s Second Coming – Dubya on a Christian mission to convert Jews

If George W Bush thought he was done being controversial, it appears he was mistaken. Next week, the 43rd US president will deliver the keynote address at a fundraising event for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MBJI), a global organisation that trains its members to convert Jews to Christianity, in the hope of bringing about the Second Coming of Christ.

Mullah Fazlullah: The hardliner elected as Pakistan Taliban’s new leader

They call him ‘Mullah Radio’ and his message is clear: there will be no more talk with the regime

Mosque bombing kills provincial governor Arsallah Jamal in Afghanistan during Eid al-Adha holiday

A bomb planted inside a mosque microphone killed the governor of Afghanistan's eastern Logar province as he was delivering a speech to worshippers on this morning to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, officials said.

Senior Pakistani Taliban commander Latif Mehsud seized by US forces in Afghanistan

American troops have captured senior Pakistani Taliban commander Latif Mehsud, but several conflicting accounts mean the exact details remain unclear.

A still in the film East End Babylon showing Cockney Rejects on stage in 1980

Musical footnotes to movie stars: How rockumentaries looked to the margins

Rockumentaries used to focus on chart-toppers, but now the cult heroes of times past are in the spotlight, says Pierre Perrone

Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'

Story of Jesus Christ was 'fabricated to pacify the poor', claims controversial Biblical scholar

Christianity was a sophisticated government propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of a the Roman Empire, claims scholar

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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all