Fighting has broken out again after last night’s brief truce between Ukrainian government forces and the Ukrainian opposition occupying Kiev’s Independence square. There are some reports that as many as 35 opposition members were killed in the renewed fighting with some dying as the result of sniper fire.
The Telegraph saw ten corpses laid out on the pavement beneath the awning of a cafe on the northern edge of Independence Square, where thousands of demonstrators are still camped.
At least three of the bodies displayed single bullet wounds to the heads.
Below is video taken by Radio Free Europe’s Russian service of government snipers taking aim at opposition members.
Makeshift triage centers have been set up by the opposition including a makeshift treatment center at the Ukrainia Hotel where many reporters are currently staying.
The Ukrainian government is blaming opposition members for the new outbreak of violence which, they say, was sparked when the opposition went on the offensive Wednesday night possibly in order to regain control of portions of Independence Square which it had lost to government forces on Tuesday.
A Ukrainian presidential statement said dozens of police were killed or wounded during the opposition offensive hours after Yanukovich and opposition leaders had agreed on a truce. Witnesses said they saw snipers firing during the clashes. The Health Ministry said two police were among Thursday’s dead.
That raised the total death toll since Tuesday to at least 51, including at least 12 police – by far the bloodiest hours of Ukraine’s 22-year post-Soviet history. Local media said more than 30 protesters were killed in Thursday’s flare-up.
The opposition is demanding that President Yanukovych step down from his position and that new elections be held. Protests began in November of last year as the result of many Ukrainians desiring to move towards EU membership, a longtime demand of many Ukrainians, particularly in the west of the country. President Yanukovych was elected in 2010 with the promise of moving Ukraine towards economic association with the West. Yanukovych is accused of instead moving Ukraine towards closer ties with Russia, a move that many Ukrainians see as a symptom of ongoing Russian influence over the future of Ukraine. Peaceful demonstrations in November were met with government crackdowns on freedom of speech and assembly. The opposition occupation of Kiev’s Independence Square has been met with increasingly forceful pushback from the Ukrainian government and dozens of protesters and police have died in the conflict.
With opposition supporters arriving in Kiev from all over Western Ukraine, some as far as 300 miles away, and Ukrainian security services stating that they’ve begun counter-terrorism operations in the country that “gives the army the right to search, detain, even fire on civilians.” Reporting that opposition members have seized government weapons depots and military bases only increases the danger in the region and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has expressed fears that the situation could escalate to civil war.