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