Sheer 'Mayhem' Rocks Ukraine
19 dead as Kiev protests explode
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2014 1:22 PM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2014 3:45 PM CST
An anti-government protester throws a stone during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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(Newser) – "Mayhem" in Ukraine, declares the New York Times, amid reports that anti-government protests have boiled over in Kiev's bloodiest day since President Viktor Yanukovich turned down an EU deal in November. Nineteen were killed in street clashes, including six policemen, reports the BBC, and details are a bit chaotic. Reuters reports the two felled officers were killed by gunfire. However, it's unclear whether police are using live ammunition or rubber bullets; protesters were spotted with guns, but not witnessed using them. Riot police then attempted to blaze a path through the stone barriers cordoning off Independence Square using two armored personnel carriers, as protesters lobbed rocks, fireworks, and petrol bombs; those vehicles got stuck and erupted in flames with police still inside. Unrest is also spreading to Western Ukraine, where protesters have attacked police and government offices in several regions, CNN reports.

Yanukovich is meeting with the opposition in Kiev as Ukraine's former foreign minister urges the US and EU to support the opposition, and leaders in the Ukrainian republic of Crimea are telling the president to crack down with "emergency measures," the BBC reports. The Times reports that, against that chaotic backdrop, protesters were heard singing the national anthem in the square. The AP reports that a significant portion of their protest camp is now on fire, and says police are moving in using water cannons and stun grenades. The government has brought the subway to a halt to prevent reinforcements from bolstering the number of protesters, who, apparently disheartened by their lack of progress, earlier today left the barricaded area surrounding Independence Square and marched toward the Parliament building to demand that Yanukovich give up his "dictatorial" powers. But Reuters reports they were cut off from the building by a line of trucks, and clashes began. See more photos at the BBC.