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

Pakistan bomb blast kills eight

Eight people have been killed in a bomb explosion near a market in north-western Pakistan, a government official has said.

Aslam: Despite the atrocities, his view of Islam is nuanced

The Blind Man's Garden, By Nadeem Aslam Faber and Faber £18.99

This poetic but devastating novel about Islamic extremism and the conflict in Afghanistan has the authenticity of lived experience

The reclusive family who didn't see another human for 40 years

Those with an interest in 20th century history will be familiar with the stories of famous recluses like Howard Hughes or the Vietnam vets who emerged from the jungle some 20 years after the war had ended, but the Lykov family beats them all.

When a team of Soviet geologists accidentally stumbled across the family in a remote part of Siberia, they were so isolated that they were unaware that the second world war had even started, never mind finished. It was 1978.

The Essex Jonathan Meades has known all his adult life is grossly at odds with the Essex of popular mythology and hackneyed mediation

The Joy of Essex: In praise of much-maligned ancient county

In recent years, the ancient county has been associated with fake tan and melodrama. In fact, argues Jonathan Meades, it’s one of the most extraordinary parts of Britain

Prince Harry at the controls of an Apache helicopter

Trigger happy Prince Harry 'must have mental problems', says Taliban

Prince Harry has incurred the wrath of critics both home and abroad after describing how he killed insurgents while serving in Afghanistan.

One policeman killed after Taliban militant attack on Kabul police headquarters

At least one policeman was killed today when Taliban militants detonated a car bomb at the gates of the Kabul traffic police headquarters and then stormed the compound, setting off a six-hour gun battle with security forces, authorities said.

Iphigenia in Forest Hills, By Janet Malcolm

Skewed justice of the trigger happy judge and his prejudice

Shias refuse to bury blast victims until security is tightened

About 1,000 Pakistani Shia Muslims are protesting in the southwest for a second day, blocking a main road with the bodies of relatives killed in a bombing to demand the government provide better security.

Postcard from... Lalish, Iraq

"Close your eyes and try three times," our young guide explains. The pressure's on. Throw the pebble in the right-hand hole, I get heaven – the left and it's eternal damnation.

Comedians of the Antichrist give first atheist church their blessing

Liam O’Brien attends the maiden ‘service’ for non-believers

Malala Yousafzai: Pakistani girl shot by Taliban is discharged from hospital

With a shy smile, a wave and a hug for the nurses who helped save her life, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai left hospital in Britain today.

The release of Taliban prisoners aims to promote peace in the region as soldiers leave

Pakistan releases eight Taliban prisoners

Pakistan released eight Taliban prisoners, including former justice minister Nooruddin Turabi, on Monday in an effort to facilitate the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan.

The end of the world...again? Authorities on alert after cult leader paedophile Warren Jeffs warns 10,000 followers to prepare for New Year's Eve apocalypse

Experts warn Jeffs' message could send a 'dangerous signal' to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

19 killed in attack on Shiites in Pakistan

A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing 19 people, a government official and eyewitnesses said.

Pakistani army soldiers patrol outside the airport in Peshawar after the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for suicide attack on an international airport earlier this month

Taliban seize 22 men from tribal force units

The Pakistani Taliban have seized at least 22 men from a regional paramilitary force in attacks on three checkpoints in northern Pakistan.

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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
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015