Police assault turns Kiev protest camp into war zoneAgence France-Presse. Kiev / New Age Online
Protesters dug up paving stones and hurled Molotov cocktails in a desperate attempt to repel a police onslaught against their camp on Kiev's Independence Square on Wednesday.
A wall of smoke and flames rose up as lines of riot police and protesters, both clutching shields and clad in helmets and body armour, faced off across a fire-strewn no man's land.
The iconic square, the heart of three months of anti-government protests, turned into a war zone as clashes dragged on throughout the night.
Explosions echoed around central Kiev as police hurled stun grenades at demonstrators and sent in armoured water cannon, one of which protesters set alight.
Part of what had been a bustling tent city just hours earlier was turned into ash and rags as fire ate up the canvas shelters that had housed protesters demanding President Viktor Yanukovych leave power after he rejected closer ties with the EU in favour of Russia.
Flames also tore through several floors of the last remaining opposition stronghold overlooking the square and protesters burned tyres and anything wooden they could find to create a dense smokescreen between them and police.
Television footage from the scene showed protesters capturing several riot police in fierce clashes before dragging them away through the crowd as demonstrators aimed punches at them.
Amid the carnage, protesters said that they were committed to defending the last bastion of the rebellion against Yanukovych's rule.
"Whatever happens we have to defend Maidan until the end," said Petro Olinyk, a 50-year-old demonstrator from central Ukraine.
Others told the country's authorities to end the assault and listen to protesters' demands if they wanted to avoid the violence spiralling out of control.
"If we want Ukraine to remain a united country then the government must negotiate," Vladimir, 38, told AFP.
Opposition medics said that the bodies of at least four protesters killed during the assault had been brought into their makeshift clinics.
That bought to at least 16 the number of people killed in the clashes since Tuesday morning, the bloodiest outburst of violence in the nearly three months of protests.
As the assault began police warned women and children through loudspeakers to leave the area saying that they were launching "an anti-terrorist" operation. But thousands of people remained on the square.
As the assault raged, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said that protesters "were not going anywhere".
"This a small island of freedom," the former heavyweight boxer told the crowd.
Klitschko later met with Yanukovych but said that the president had refused to call off the assault on the protest camp.
As fighting raged, priests, performers and speakers still took to the stage on the square with loud speakers continuing to blare out stirring renditions of Ukraine's national anthem, folk songs and prayers.
Kiev was in essential lockdown as authorities halted the city's metro system earlier in the day and limited road traffic coming into the capital from midnight (2200 GMT).
comments powered by Disqus
In the wake of al-Qaeda chief’s reported threat, the government has taken massive security measurers to ensure smooth observance of Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day... Full story
The counting of votes cast in the polls to 97 upazila parishads of the country’s 40 districts began on Wednesday afternoon... Full story
BNP on Wednesday alleged that the government is hatching various plots to manipulate upazila election results into its favour as, what the party said, they did in the January 5 parliamentary polls... Full story
Police on Wednesday produced Rasel Bin Sattar, arrested in connection with the Al-Qaeda threat against Bangladesh, before a magistrate’s court in Tangail and sought 15 days’ remand for his interrogation... Full story
Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed candidates announced Wednesday that they had boycotted upazila parishad polls in different... Full story
Amid the US’ concern over various issues related to Bangladesh’s domestic affairs, Bangladesh has briefed the US officials in Washington... Full story
The Dhaka Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunal-4 on Wednesday granted one month ad interim bail to singer Arefin Rumi, in a domestic... Full story
US ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena visited three polling centers under Mohanpur upazila in the district of Rajshahi Wednesday... Full story
A leader of the Purba Banglar Sarbahara Party (PBSP) was killed in a ‘gun battle’ with police at Baghmara village under Shibchar upazila of Madaripur district... Full story
Border Guard Bangladesh pushed back 14 Rohingya ethnic people back to Myanmar through Gundom frontier of Bandarban district early Wednesday... Full story
Protesters dug up paving stones and hurled Molotov cocktails in a desperate attempt to repel a police onslaught against their camp on... Full story
Defiant Thai opposition protesters threatened to storm Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's crisis headquarters Wednesday, stepping up their campaign a day after dramatic street clashes left five... Full story
The government in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has decided to free three men and a woman convicted of plotting the 1991 assassination of former... Full story
A former American soldier jailed for raping an Iraqi teenager and executing the girl and her family in 2006 has died in an apparent suicide in prison... Full story