KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Thousands of police are doing battle with some 20,000 anti-government protesters in the capital of Ukraine, as more than three months of protests reach a crisis point.
Police, armed with stun grenades and water cannons, attacked a large opposition camp in Kiev, dismantling some of the barricades on the perimeter of the camp and setting many of the protest tents on fire.
But the demonstrators fought back, armed with rocks, bats and firebombs and singing the country's national anthem.
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko (VIH'-tah-lee KLICH'-koh) is urging the protesters to defend the camp. As fires burned around him, he told the crowd, "We will not go anywhere from here."
Earlier today, at least nine people were killed in street clashes. Protesters attacked police lines and set fires outside parliament, accusing the government of ignoring their demands once again.
As darkness fell, police vowed to bring order to the streets. They shut down subway stations in the capital.
The protests began in late November after President Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich) froze ties with the European Union, in exchange for a $15 billion bailout from Russia. Moscow later suspended the payments.
132-a-12-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"by either side"-White House press secretary Jay Carney says the bloodshed in the streets of Ukraine needs to stop. (18 Feb 2014)
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131-r-22-(Clashes between police and protesters, as Ukrainian riot police moved in on a large protest camp in Indpendence Square in the center of Kiev)--Sound of clashes in Kiev's Independence Square as Ukrainian riot police moved in on a large protest camp in the center of the city. (18 Feb 2014)
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GRAPHICSBANK: An anti-government protester, Kiev, Ukraine, graphic element on gray (18 Feb 2014)
APPHOTO XEL137: Anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Thousands of police armed with stun grenades and water cannons attacked the large opposition camp in Ukraine's capital on Tuesday that has been the center of nearly three months of anti-government protests after at least nine people were killed in street clashes. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (18 Feb 2014)
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