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Trouble Near Manger Square

A dozen gunmen on Tuesday seized the rooftop of Bethlehem's city hall near Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, and pointed their weapons at Palestinian police below.

The standoff came just four days before Christmas. The Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity's holiest shrines, stands over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born.

It was not immediately clear why the gunmen threatened police or why they had seized the rooftop, said Tony Marcus, a Bethlehem municipal official. He said the gunmen seized the rooftop as town employees were setting up a Christmas market in Manger Square.

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