Toll in Ukraine violence 25

Kiev, Feb 19: At least 25 people died and more than 370 were injured when anti-government protestors clashed early Wednesday with riot police in the Ukrainian capital in the bloodiest outburst of violence in nearly three months of demonstrations, Xinhua reported.

Among the dead were nine Ukrainian law enforcers

The police surrounded the Independence Square, the main site where protestors had camped Tuesday, and dismantled barricades and dispersed demonstrators with stun grenades and water cannon.

In all, 371 wounded people turned up for medical aid in medical facilities in the city, ITAR-TASS reported citing the press service of the country’s health ministry.

Of them, 241 were taken to hospitals.

The ministry said that of the 25 people killed, eight died at various local hospitals, four died at a hospital of the Interior Ministry, and 13 bodies were brought to the Kiev forensic expertise bureau.

Seventy-nine law enforcers, five journalists, one lawmaker and three children under 18 were taken to various hospitals.

The day’s unrest marked the latest wave of clashes between demonstrators and riot police in the political standoff, which began last November with the Ukrainian government’s decision to backtrack on the country’s European integration that angered many Ukrainians.

The demonstrations turned violent Jan 19, when radical activists attacked riot police with fireworks and petrol bombs, causing casualties.

In New York, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern about renewed violence and fatalities in Kiev.

The UN chief closely followed the developments in Ukraine and “reiterates his appeal to all concerned to act with restraint in order to avoid any further violence”, Nesirky said.

US Vice President Joe Biden also called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to pull back government forces and exercise “maximum” restraint in the current crisis.

Biden called Yanukovych Tuesday to express “grave” concern regarding the crisis on the streets of Kiev, said a White House statement and added that Biden underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the fresh wave of violence in Ukraine, urging all parties to exercise restraint and resume dialogue.

“I condemn the resumption of violence in Kiev and the indiscriminate use of force which resulted in several deaths. I call on all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to immediately resume dialogue,” Xinhua quoted Fabius as saying in a statement.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said Yanukovych has told opposition leaders that he would not call off the police assault on the opposition’s main protest camp on the Independence Square.

“Yanukovych said that there is only one option… to clear Maidan and that everyone has to go home,” Klitschko told independent Hromadske TV after meeting the president.

Responding to concerns and criticisms, Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara asked the international community to make an objective evaluation of the recent violence.

“We call on foreign governments and international organizations to make a fair and impartial assessment of the situation in Ukraine,” Kozhara was quoted by the foreign ministry’s press office as saying.

He voiced his hope that the international community would “strongly condemn” the illegal actions of radical activists, who initiated a new wave of “violence and lawlessness” in Ukraine.

IANS