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Ukraine police storm camp, 9 killed in deadliest day in weeks

In Kiev, the revolution is being televised.

By
Gabrielle Levy
Ukrainian riot police secure the parliament building in Kiev on February 18, 2014. Authorities report at least nine people were killed including two police officers on the worst day of violence in the two-month long protests against the government. UPI/Sergey Starostenko
Ukrainian riot police secure the parliament building in Kiev on February 18, 2014. Authorities report at least nine people were killed including two police officers on the worst day of violence in the two-month long protests against the government. UPI/Sergey Starostenko | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- In Kiev, the revolution is being televised.

Three months into anti-government protests that consumed the Ukrainian capitol, a clash between demonstrators and police in Independence Square Tuesday resulted in the deadliest day in weeks, with at least seven protestors and two policemen killed in the violence.

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Violence erupted in the square, known locally as the Maidan, after protestors ignored a deadline to clear the square by 6 p.m. local time.

The Maidan has been the site of a mostly peaceful camp since November, but shortly before Tuesday evening's deadline, police announced over loudspeakers they were about to begin "an anti-terror operation."

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While metro service to the capital was suspended, and protest leader Vitaly Klitschko had urged women and children to leave the square, thousands remained when police turned the water cannon on the crowd and began advancing with an armored vehicle. Demonstrators responded by throwing what appeared to be fireworks.

In an interview with Ukraine's News 24 channel, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the Fatherland party, appealed to President Viktor Yanukoviych.

"Call off your chain dogs who are shooting at civilians," he said. "There are people here, children, youth and women. We did not start this confrontation. We are urging you to pull the law enforcement bodies back 200 meters. Stop the bloodshed and call a truce until morning,"

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The protests began in November, when pro-Europe parties began calling for Yanukoviych's resignation after he began positioning the country to have closer ties with Russia. Recent weeks' protests have mostly been calm, but tensions heightened Tuesday after police blocked a protest march to the parliament, where a debate on changing the constitution to reduce the president's powers was set to take place.

Protesters hurled cobblestones ripped from the street at police, while others lobbed smoke bombs. Police fired back with stun and smoke grenades and rubber bullets.

At least seven protesters died in the clash, and two police, who officials say died of gunshot wounds.

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Yanukoviych is scheduled to meet with protest leaders Wednesday to as part of the discussion on potential constitutional changes.

A live feed has been broadcasting the violence in the square, where fires continue to burn into the night.

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[BBC]

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