Thousands of Ukrainian government police armed with stun grenades and water cannons attacked an opposition camp today in an attempt to dislodge the protesters. The result is 9 confirmed dead, 2 policemen and 7 opposition members (UPDATE: this is more like 25 people now), and large fires in Kiev which seem generally under control at this time. The Associated Press reports:
The police dismantled some of the barricades on the perimeter of Independence Square, and many of the protest tents were set on fire. But the 20,000 demonstrators fought back, armed with rocks, bats and fire bombs, and singing the Ukrainian national anthem.
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged the protesters to defend the camp.
“We will not go anywhere from here,” Klitschko told the crowd, speaking from a stage in the square as fires burned around him, releasing huge plumes of smoke into the night sky. “This is an island of freedom and we will defend it,” he said.
Many heeded his call.
In addition to the fighting in the streets of Kiev, there is at least one report that protesters set the police station on fire in the city of Ternopli in retaliation.
Here is the best news summary of what’s happening and below is the livestream from Espreso TV.
It appears that the EU is strongly considering instituting targeted financial sanctions against those behind the “repression” in Ukraine. This would likely at least include Ukrainian President Yanukovych.
Additionally, according to the BBC’s Daniel Sandford, the end result to last night’s fighting is that the police have been able to take over a corner of Kiev’s Independence Square which is still mostly occupied by circa 20,000 individuals protesting in opposition to the Yanukovych led Ukrainian government.
According to Russia Today, the Ukraine’s security services have begun to plan the launch of a counter-terror operation aimed at “radicals.” Ukrainian Security Service head, Aleksandr Yakimenko claims “over the last day more than 1,500 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition have come into the hands of criminals.”
The BBC also reports that the Ukrainian military will likely be employed in an attempt to secure government weapons depots.