Ukraine police charge protesters after nation's bloodiest day
KIEV (REUTERS) - Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence.
Police battled their way into Independence Square - centre of three months of protests against President Viktor Yanukovich - but demonstrators, some armed with clubs and wearing helmets and body armour, tried to stand their ground.
Smoke billowed from burning tents and piles of tyres and wood as thousands of protesters held on to the centre of the square, a Reuters cameraman said. Several floors of a trade union building, used as an anti-government headquarters, were on fire.
At least 18 people, including seven policemen, died on Tuesday during hours of violence between security forces and civilians. Many were killed by gunshot and hundreds more injured, with dozens of them in a serious condition, police and opposition representatives said.