Defiant protesters shouted “Glory to Ukraine” as burning tents lit up the night sky after thousands of riot police moved against the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev on Tuesday.
The police, armed with stun grenades and water cannons, attacked the camp after at least 13 people — including six officers — died and hundreds were injured in street clashes. The violence was the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine’s capital in a struggle over the nation’s identity.
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged the 20,000 protesters to defend the camp on Independence Square.
At least nine people died Tuesday in protests in Kiev, seven of them civilians and two police, authorities said.
A total of 47 police officers were injured, the Interior Ministry said. As violence continued, the ministry said metro stations were closed, and Kiev officials urged residents to stay away from the city center to avoid danger.
The protesters’ medical service said more than 150 people were hurt in Tuesday’s clashes.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the opposition leaders, made a public appeal to President Viktor Yanukovych: “Do not let Ukraine become a country covered with blood. Pull back the police and announce a cease-fire. Then we will negotiate.”
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 18, 2014
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Pity! RT @GovPeterLesniak Kiev Now. Europe's second largest state sliding into civil war. pic.twitter.com/veRJvML76b
— Nervana Mahmoud (@Nervana_1) February 18, 2014
— Maxim Eristavi (@MaximEristavi) February 18, 2014
— Michael B. Kelley (@MichaelBKelley) February 18, 2014