The winners of the 2012 World Press Photo Awards were announced in Amsterdam on Friday.

Swedish photographer Paul Hansen's picture of two dead Palestinian children being carried to their funeral by a group of men won first place. The children in the picture were killed in an Israeli missile attack and the men carrying the children, a brother and a sister, are seen walking down a narrow lane in Gaza city. The picture was taken for the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

"The strength of the pictures lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children," said jury member Mayu Mohanna of Peru, "It's a picture I will not forget."

The World Press Photo awards is the largest and most prestigious annual press photography contest. The awards were given away in the following categories: Spot News, General News, People in the News, Sports Action, Sports Features, Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Portraits, Arts and Entertainment and Nature.

Hansen's picture, taken on 20 November, won first place in the Spot News category, apart from being the overall Best Picture.

In the picture, the lifeless children are being carried by grieving men, as their father was also killed in the attacks. Their mother, whose name is not known, was in intensive care.

"This prize is the highest honour you can get in the profession," Hansen told Associated Press, "I'm very happy, but also very sad. The family lost two children and the mother is unconscious in a hospital."

"These situations are so visually complex," he added, "It's difficult to convey the emotions, to translate what is happening. The light is harsh and there are a lot of people. But in the alley the light bounced off the walls, so I thought this is a place where you can see that it's a procession. ... You get the depth in the image, and the bouncing light."

Conflict and violence and its impact on civilians was the theme for most hard news category images.

Professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world participated in the contest and a total of 103,481 images were submitted by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries, according to the contest's official website.

Hansen will be awarded a sum of €10,000 (approximately £8,600) at the opening of the year's exhibition, which will run from 25 April to 27 April, in Amsterdam.

See some of the award-winning pictures from the World Press Photo Awards

Spot News, second prize by Fabio Bucciarelli of Italy. Description: A free Syrian Army fighter takes up a position during clashes against government forces in the Sulemain Halabi district in October 2012, Aleppo, SyriaReuters
Paul Hansen of Sweden, a photographer working for the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, poses after winning a World Press Photo award, in StockholmReuters
World Press Photo of the Year, Spot News, 1st prize singles, Paul Hansen of Sweden. Description: Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father Fouad was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.Reuters
Spot News, 2nd prize singles. Photo by Emin Ozmen, Turkey. Description : Opposition fighters regularly launched operations to seize suspected government informants after dark. Two informants were captured, declared guilty under interrogation, and tortured throughout the night; tired fighters had to be replaced so the torture could continue. After 48, hours the captives were released.Reuters
Sports Feature, 1st prize stories by Jan Grarup of Denmark. Description: The Somali basketball association pays armed guards to watch over and protect Suweys and her team when they play. In Mogadishu, the war-torn capital of Somalia, young women risk their lives to play basketball. Suweys, the 19-year-old captain of a women's basketball team, and her friends defy radical Islamist views on women’s rights. They have received many death threats from not only al-Shabaab militias and radical Islamists, but some male members of their own families. " I just want to dunk," said Suweys. It is on the basketball court she feels happiest. "Basketball makes me forget all my problems.”Reuters
Sports Action, 1st prize singles, Wei Seng Chen of Malaysia. Description: A jockey, his feet stepped into a harness strapped to the bulls and clutching their tails, shows relief and joy at the end of a dangerous run across rice fields. The Pacu Jawi (bull race) is a popular competition at the end of harvest season keenly contested between villages.Reuters
Sports Action, 2nd prize stories, Sergei Ilnitsky of Russia. Description: Alaaeldin Abouelkassem of Egypt (top) in action against Peter Joppich of Germany during their Men's Foil Individual Round 16 match. Years of training, thousands of battles, and hundreds of victories prepared fencing competitors for the opportunity to stand on the piste at the 2012 London Olympic Games to fight for gold.Reuters
Nature, 1st prize stories, by Paul Nicklen of Canada. Description: Even though they have evolved an incredibly advanced bubble physiology the greatest challenge they face is the loss of sea ice that supports their colonies and ecosystem. New science shows that Emperor Penguins are capable of tripling their swimming speed by releasing millions of bubbles from their feathers. These bubbles reduce the friction between their feathers and the icy seawater, allowing them to accelerate in the water. They use speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour to avoid leopard seals and to launch themselves up onto the ice.Reuters
Nature, 1st prize singles, by Christian Ziegler of Germany. Description: The endangered Southern Cassowary feeds on the fruit of the Blue Quandang tree. Cassowaries are a keystone species in northern Australian rain-forests because of their ability to carry so many big seeds such long distances.Reuters
Staged Portraits, 1st prize stories, Stephan Vanfleterenof Belgium. Description: Makone Soumaoro, 30, goiter. “I don't have pain, but I am worried that my neck swells that much. I hope it it is not a tumor because I am a housewife and my man and three children need me.” Guinea is one of the least developed countries in the world. More than 60 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar per day. Three quarters of the population is illiterate. Health care is substandard and unaffordable for most people. Some get help with their health problems from NGO Mercy Ships aboard the hospital ship 'African Mercy' docked in the capital Conakry. They are treated by volunteer surgeons, doctors and nurses with such health issues as cataracts, teeth problems, and skin diseases to more complex orthopedic or tumor surgeries.Reuters
Staged Portraits, 2nd prize singles, by Stefen ChowStefen of Malaysia.Reuters
Observed Portraits, 3rd prize stories,by Ananda van der Pluijm of Netherlands. Description: After living with his father for ten years and staying in a youth shelter, Martin, 18, returned home two years ago to live with his mother. He arrived with some clothes in a bag and no work or degree.Reuters
Observed Portraits, 3rd prize singles, Ilona Szwarc of Poland. Description: American Girl is a popular line of dolls that can be customized to look exactly like their owners. Kayla poses with her lookalike doll against a portrait of her ancestors.Reuters
Daily Life, 2nd prize singles by Søren Bidstrup of Denmark. Description: Summer holiday camping in Jeselo. Someone is up a little too early.Reuters
Contemporary Issues, 1st prize stories, Maika Elan of Vietnam. Description: Phan Thi Thuy Vy and Dang Thi Bich Bay, who have been together for one year, watch television to relax after studying at school. Vietnam has historically been unwelcoming to same-sex relationships. But its Communist government is considering recognizing same-sex marriage, a move that would make it the first Asian country to do so, despite past human rights issues and a long-standing stigma. In August 2012, the country’s first public gay pride parade took place in Hanoi.Reuters
Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles, by Micah Albertof the U.S. Description: Pausing in the rain, a woman working as a trash picker at the 30-acre dump, which literally spills into households of one million people living in nearby slums, wishes she had more time to look at the books she comes across. She even likes the industrial parts catalogs. “It gives me something else to do in the day besides picking [trash],” she said.Reuters
General News, 1st prize singles, by Rodrigo Abd of Argentina. Description: Aida cries while recovering from severe injuries she received when her house was shelled by the Syrian Army. Her husband and two children were fatally wounded during the shelling.Reuters
General News, 3rd prize stories, Daniel Berehulak of Australia. Description: Pine trees uprooted during the tsunami lay strewn over the beach. One year later, areas of Japan most impacted by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left 15,848 dead and 3,305 missing, continue to struggle. Thousands of people remain living in temporary dwellings. The government faces an uphill battle with the need to dispose of rubble as it works to rebuild economies and livelihoods.Reuters