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At least 70 protesters killed in Kiev

PTI Kiev | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on February 20, 2014

Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines today in Ukraine’s embattled capital, even as government snipers shot back and the almost-medieval melee that ensued left at least 70 people dead and hundreds injured.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes today of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid.

Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or on planks of wood.

Protesters were also seen leading policemen with their hands held high around the sprawling protest camp in central Kiev. Ukraine’s Interior ministry says 67 police were captured in all. It was not clear how they were taken. An opposition lawmaker said they were being held in Kiev’s occupied city hall.

President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition protesters who demand his resignation are locked in an epic battle over the identity of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West.

Parts of the country, mostly in its western cities, are in open revolt against Yanukovych’s central government, while many in eastern Ukraine favour strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

At least 99 people have died this week in the clashes in Kiev, a sharp reversal in three months of mostly peaceful protests.

Now neither side appears willing to compromise, with the opposition insisting on Yanukovych’s resignation and an early election and the president apparently prepared to fight until the end.

Today was the deadliest day yet at the sprawling protest camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, also called the Maidan. An AP cameraman saw snipers shooting at protesters in Kiev and video footage showed at least one sniper wearing a Ukraine riot police uniform.

Oleh Musiy, the top medical coordinator for the protesters, told the AP that at least 70 protesters were killed today and over 500 injured. He said the death toll from the day’s clashes could well rise further.

There was no way to immediately verify his statement.

Published on February 20, 2014
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