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 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.