Deadly Clashes Continue Into Early Morning Hours in Ukraine

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 18 2014 9:38 PM

Security Forces Continue Deadly Crackdown on Protesters in Kiev

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Anti-government protesters clash with the police during their storming of the Independence Square in Kiev on February 18, 2014.

Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

The worst day of violence in Ukraine since anti-government protests began last November continued late into the night and early Wednesday morning in the center of Kiev. As many as 22 people have died, including seven police officers, and many more have been injured in clashes that began around 8 p.m. local time when police attempted to break into the protest camp in Independence Square with two armored vehicles. Thousands of riot police marched against protesters in the sweeping crackdown ordered by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

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Flames engulfed the main anti-government protest camp on Independence Square on Tuesday as riot police tried to force demonstrators out following the bloodiest clashes in three months of protests.

Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

As fires continued to burn, leaders from Ukraine and around the world expressed serious concern over the growing violence. Vice President Biden called on Yanukovych “to pull back government forces and to exercise maximum restraint," according to a White House statement. Opposition leader, and former heavyweight boxer, Vitali Klitschko, met with Yanukovych late on Tuesday night, but according to reports no deal was reached.

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"Yanukovych said that there is only one option...to clear Maidan and that everyone has to go home," Klitschko told independent Hromadske TV after meeting with Yanukovych.

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The iconic square turned into a war zone as riot police moved slowly through opposition barricades from several directions, hurling stun grenades and using water cannon to clear protestors.

Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

According to the BBC's live feed, protesters are regrouping and building up new reinforcements against anti-riot police, including a "protective ring of fire"Reuters and the Kyiv Post are updating with the latest news throughout the night. Live stream of Indepedence Square (Maidan) below: