At least 22 reported dead, more than 1,000 injured

Open warfare broke out on the streets of Kyiv today, with at least 22 persons reportedly killed and more than 1,000 people injured. It was a day of non-stop bloodletting, smoke, fire and screeching ambulances.

The three major areas of clashes in Kyiv are on Institututska and Shovkovychna streets, Hrushevskoho Street and Mariinsky Park. Police by mid-afternoon had repelled protesters from a government district that includes the Presidential Administration, the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers.

The death toll was likely to rise as police went on the offensive after sundown, advancing on thousands of protesters on Independence Square at 8 p.m. with gunshots, a water cannon and an armored personnel carrier. Tents housing protesters were burning on the main square, a fire fueled by protesters with tires as a defense against police attacks.

The nighttime police raide followed an official Interior Ministry warning for all women and children to leave Independence Square by 8 p.m. Additionally, Hromadske TV reported earlier in the evening that that three armored vehicles were moved to Kyiv streets at nightfall, including at least one that was stopped by demonstrators.

Protesters stop an armored vehicle.

The Interior Ministry, physicians and opposition politicians said that by early Feb. 19 the death toll from the Feb. 18 clashes had reached 22 persons, including at least 13 civilians and nine police officers.

Some of the latest reported deaths included that of a protester who died in a hospital from wounds suffered on Feb. 18, according to opposition member of parliament Iryna Gerashchenko who is part of Vitali Klitschko’s Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party. Also, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that nine police officers had been killed, including two road police officers early on Feb. 19 in Kyiv’s Sviatoshyn district.

Dr. Oleh Musiy, who coordinates medical care for the anti-government EuroMaidan protesters, said that the death toll reached 20 people early on Feb. 19 before the Interior Ministry added the two new police casualties.

Dr. Olga Bogomolets, a physician, also said that the number of injured is more than 1,000 people and more likely “into the thousands.”

Five of the victims were identified as: Serhiy Didych, a member of a local city council in western Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast; Volodymyr Tishchuk of Zaporyzhia in southeastern Ukraine; Serhiy Shapoval of Kyiv; Zurab Khurtsia, 53; and Antonina Dvoryanets, a middle-aged woman.

The 20 deaths today came in renewed violent clashes that pit thousands of police and protesters against each other at several locations near Ukraine’s parliament building in Kyiv.

When added to the five protesters killed in January, the death toll in the anti-government EuroMaidan protests that began on Nov. 21 has now reached at least 25 persons — an unprecedented amount of bloodshed in protests during Ukraine’s nearly 23-year history as an independent nation.

Police said today that at least 100 police officers were injured alone, including dozens from gunshot wounds.

The Institute of Mass Information also said that more than 25 journalists covering the violence were attacked by police.

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