EU's Ashton urges 'immediate end' to Ukraine violence

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday urged "an immediate end" to the escalating violence in Ukraine following reports of the first fatalities in two months of pro-EU protests.

"I strongly condemn the violent escalation of events in Kiev overnight leading to casualties. The reported deaths of several protesters is a source of extreme worry," Ms Ashton said in a statement.

"The use of force and resort to violence is not an answer to the political crisis. All acts of violence must come to an immediate end and be swiftly investigated. Those responsible will have to be held to account," it added.

Two activists were shot dead on Wednesday during clashes with security forces in Kiev, the general prosecutors said, the first fatalities since the start of protests over President Viktor Yanukovych's failure to sign a deal for closer ties with the EU.

Saying she was deeply concerned about attacks on journalists and reports of missing persons, Ms Ashton called on the government and the opposition to begin "a genuine dialogue at the highest level".

"The solution needs to meet the aspirations of the Ukrainian people," she said.

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