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New unrest rocks Ukraine capital, deaths reported

ukraine A new round of street violence broke out in Ukraine’s capital Thursday despite the announcement of a truce after clashes between police and anti-government protesters this week that claimed at least 28 lives, reported RIA Novosti.

The Reuters news agency said one of its photographers had seen 10 bodies of civilians lying in two locations on Kiev’s central Independence Square. Authorities had not as of early Thursday afternoon confirmed any deaths.

In the morning, riot police withdrew from the square, which has served as the focal point of months-long demonstrations against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Calls rung out from meeting organizers on a stage erected in the heart of Independence Square to build up barricades leading to the area to keep out police.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing police officers being taken hostage and beaten by radical elements among the protesters.

Announcers appealed to people not to cross barricades to avoid being targeted by what they said were snipers firing onto people in the crowd.

Authorities earlier in the day accused the opposition of harboring violent elements who they identified as snipers firing at police.

The increasingly intransigent standoff between the government and the opposition took a bloody turn Tuesday after a crowd marching on parliament was confronted by law enforcement officers. Pictures from the front lines showed rioters ripping up cobblestones to hurl at police.

Riot police pushed the crowd back to barricades surrounding Independence Square. A section of the square had until Thursday morning been occupied by police.

As of Thursday morning, authorities said 28 people, including at least 10 police officers, had been killed in the clashes. Most of the officers killed reportedly bore gunshot wounds.

More than 800 people have been injured in the unrest.

Authorities and opposition representatives have traded accusations over who was responsible for escalating the violence. Police say radical protesters have secured hundreds of firearms.

Mass protests initially erupted in late November after the government backed away from deals to deepen political and economic cooperation with the European Union and instead opted for closer ties with Russia.

Although at first discontent was focused on that about-face move on EU ties, protests have since taken on a more general anti-government quality, calling for the president’s ouster and early elections.


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