In Pictures

Day in pictures: 18 December 2014

Our selection of some of the best news photographs taken around the world during the past 24 hours.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chinese soldiers shout as they parade in temperatures of about -30C (-22 F) in Heihe, Heilongjiang province.
Image copyright Cole Bennetts/Getty Images
Image caption People have left thousands of floral tributes for hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson who died, along with the gunman, as police commandos stormed a cafe in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney early on Tuesday morning.
Image copyright Mario Tama/Getty Images
Image caption One bride sits while another is made up while waiting for a community wedding of 16 couples from the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Image copyright MAXIM SHIPENKOV/epa
Image caption President Vladimir Putin has insisted Russia's under-fire currency, the rouble, will stabilise, but warned the economic crisis could last two years. Mr Putin insisted the nation's currency reserves were sufficient to keep the economy stable, saying the central bank should not "burn" its $419bn reserves.
Image copyright Andrew Matthews/PA
Image caption Members of the Winchester Cathedral Choir skate on the cathedral's ice rink.
Image copyright Aref Karimi/AFP
Image caption Afghan workers pick saffron flowers in the Ghoriyan District of Herat where about 6,000 people, two-thirds of them women, are employed in saffron farming.
Image copyright JUSTIN TALLIS/AFp
Image caption Wardrobe assistant Luisa Compobassi puts the finishing touches to a new wax figure of US actress Jennifer Lawrence dressed as the character Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games film franchise as it is unveiled at Madame Tussauds in central London.
Image copyright Alejandro Ernesto/epa
Image caption World leaders welcomed a historic move by the US to end more than 50 years of hostility towards Cuba and restore diplomatic relations, frozen since the 1960s. US President Barack Obama said the "rigid and outdated policy" of isolating Cuba since then had clearly failed and that it was time for a new approach. Here a musician is pictured in Cuba's capital, Havana.
Image copyright FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP
Image caption Pakistan's prime minister has vowed to rid his country of terrorism after a Taliban attack at a school in Peshawar killed 141 people, mostly children. Gunmen went from class to class shooting the students in the Pakistani Taliban's deadliest attack to date.