25 deaths are reported in fierce clashes in Kiev
9:46, — Europa
Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that 25 people had been killed after hundreds of riot police officers advanced on antigovernment demonstrators.
The Health Ministry, quoted by news agencies, said that 241 people had been injured and that nine of the dead were police officers, nytimes.com reports.
In an indication of deepening concern in Washington, the State Department issued an urgent warning late Tuesday telling American citizens in Ukraine to avoid all protests, keep a low profile and remain indoors at night while the clashes continue.
On Wednesday morning, the scene in Independence Square was apocalyptic, with black smoke billowing from fires and the streets leading to square piled with debris. The protesters’ stage, a focal point of resistance, was still intact and apparently beyond the reach of the riot police.
Police units with a water cannon were massing in front of the Khreschatyk Hotel but made no immediate attempt to move forward. The incinerated hulk of a police armored vehicle, which was lost in the initial push into the square, was still entangled in remnants of the protesters’ barricade.
With hundreds of riot police officers advancing from all sides after a day of deadly mayhem here in the Ukrainian capital, antigovernment demonstrators mounted a seemingly doomed act of defiance late on Tuesday, establishing a protective ring of fire around what remained of their encampment on Independence Square.
The attack on the square began shortly before 8 p.m., when police officers tried to drive two armored personnel carriers through stone-reinforced barriers outside the Khreschatyk Hotel on the road to the square. The vehicles became bogged down and, set upon by protesters wielding rocks and fireworks, burst into flames, trapping the security officers inside one of them and prompting desperate rescue efforts to save those caught in the second vehicle, which managed to pull back from the protesters’ barricade.
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