Ukraine’s anti-government protesters are holding out in Independence Square after the bloodiest day and night since the former Soviet republic won its independence.
At least 25 people have been killed, including a journalist and several police officers. Hundreds of people are said to have been injured.
Police gained ground amid fierce clashes but have not yet succeeded in clearing the square, the focal point of a three month long protest movement.
In a message on Ukrainian television, President Viktor Yanukovych addressed the opposition leaders with whom he was again unable to reach a negotiated solution overnight.
“Separate yourself from the radical elements that seek bloodshed and conflict with law enforcement agencies,” he said, warning that if they failed to do so, he would “talk differently” with them.
“The opposition leaders have ignored the basic foundation of democracy”, he said, adding that: “the line had been crossed when they called people to arms”.
As riot police charged protesters, demonstrators of different ages and profiles helped defend their positions. Middle-aged women were seen passing stones along a human chain to “the front”.
Missiles were hurled – petrol bombs and stones by one side, stun grenades by the other.
Several of the dead are said to have suffered gunshot wounds, with claims on both sides that live rounds were used.