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18 killed in Ukraine new violent riots as Kiev city center burns

 
 
 
 
 
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At least 18 people have been killed in Kiev as the Ukrainian capital plunges back into chaos. Rioters have attacked police, seized buildings, torched vehicles, and burned tires. Seven policemen are among the dead, all of whom died from gunshot wounds.

At least 11 protesters died in the riots, according to local officials. “As of 11 pm local time 221 people have sought medical attention, 114 of them were hospitalized. There were 11 fatalities,” Ukraine’s Health Ministry said in a statement.

Kiev’s hospitals are unable to handle the large amount of injured people coming in from the streets, TSN reported. There is a waiting list for operation rooms. People are being carried in with various types of injuries. There have been reports of two amputations, punched out eyes, and injured extremities.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has also reported that 135 law enforcers have been taken to hospitals, and 35 are in critical condition.

Thousands continue to occupy Kiev’s Independence Square as state security forces move in to disperse the crowds.

Fighting in the Maidan Square area has intensified, according to Twitter reports. Riot police are reportedly on the offensive, throwing stun grenades and spraying tear gas. Rioters are responding with Molotov cocktails. Gunshots can be heard.

Snipers are reportedly using rubber bullets and live ammunition to target deputies presiding over an opposition stage. Opposition leader Aleksandr Turchinov was wounded after being hit by a bullet while on stage. Later Turchinov tweeted that he suffered a mild face injury, but he is okay. He added that he doubts it was a sniper that was responsible.

Also, Ukrainian riot police are using UV paint to identify protesters, according to the Kyiv Post and some independent reports on social media.

Video footage of violence shows rioters pelting an armored personnel carrier with Molotov cocktails, setting it on fire. Reports from the scene say the fire has been extinguished and the vehicle is now operational.

Police used loudspeakers and urging protesters to leave Independence Square (Maidan). Speakers on stage are calling on the government to allow its “dogs” (police) to leave them alone, and are chanting slogans like “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Death to the enemies!”

Earlier, a group of rioters armed with clubs stormed into the Canadian Embassy in Kiev, according to the interior ministry’s press service. The unidentified rioters reportedly broke into the embassy, destroyed some of its property, and attacked staff.

Another group of around 1,000 rioters attempted to storm a district police headquarters building in Kiev, using an explosive device in the process. The rioters seized two trolley buses to block the streets and a truck to ram police cordons. They also smashed an ambulance and broke into several offices in central Kiev.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated that Ukraine’s security forces have an obligation to de-escalate the situation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Ukrainian government and opposition to show restraint and resume “sincere dialogue,” RIA Novosti quoted Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, as saying. “The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about reports received today regarding the resumption of violence and loss of life,” he said.

An emergency meeting has been scheduled for 11:00 p.m. local time between President Viktor Yanukovich and the nation’s three opposition leaders to find a solution to the escalating violence, according to the Kiev Post. According to the press service of the opposition Udar (Strike) party, the meeting has yet to start.

Meanwhile, presidential adviser Hanna Herman told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that talks between the government and the opposition are only possible when peace is restored. “Negotiations only happen when the force methods of fighting are stopped, when the opposition takes armed people off the streets and when calm is renewed in the country,” Herman said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had a telephone conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden, LB.ua cited sources as saying. It is not yet known what was discussed between the two leaders. Earlier, US and EU ambassadors were unable to reach Yanukovich.

As the situation in Kiev intensifies, violence has been spreading to the west of the country. Hundreds of young rioters in the western city of Lvov have seized the regional administration building and are storming the Lvov Central Internal Affairs Directorate, Interfax reported.

Around 300 rioters have also surrounded the local administration building and police department in the western city of Ternopol, Unian reported. Protesters threw bricks at the police department windows and demanded that officers evacuate the building. As policemen began making their way out through the back exit, rioters continued to throw rocks and chased them down the street. There are reports that three smoke bombs and grenades were used.

Meanwhile, the southern Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea has urged President Viktor Yanukovich to come up with “decisive action and emergency measures” to end riots and restore constitutional order.

“The peaceful Crimea is extremely concerned with the latest surge of violence in central Kiev. The carnage on the capital’s streets proves that the opposition has taken manifold concessions on part of the government for a show of its weakness, and has used the amnesty law as a break before a new attempt of a forceful power grab,” Crimea’s Supreme Council said in a Tuesday statement.

According to the statement, the general mobilization – called by “extremist” groups like the Right Sector and the Svoboda Party – is nothing but the start of a civil war in Ukraine.

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