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World's Outrage Grows As Death Toll Rises In Kiev

  • Prayers are held Thursday for victims of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police in Kiev. Hours after a truce was declared, deadly clashes broke out again in Ukraine's capital.
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    Prayers are held Thursday for victims of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police in Kiev. Hours after a truce was declared, deadly clashes broke out again in Ukraine's capital.
    Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
  • Protesters rest near burning barricades in Kiev. The protesters say police forces and "thugs" who support President Viktor Yanukovych never observed the truce that was announced Wednesday night, according to NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.
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    Protesters rest near burning barricades in Kiev. The protesters say police forces and "thugs" who support President Viktor Yanukovych never observed the truce that was announced Wednesday night, according to NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.
    Efrem Lukatsky/AP
  • Night falls as anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence Square in Kiev. "Interior ministry says 67 police captured by protesters in Kiev," the AP reports.
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    Night falls as anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence Square in Kiev. "Interior ministry says 67 police captured by protesters in Kiev," the AP reports.
    Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
  • A protester stands behind barricades during clashes with police in Kiev. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported on Morning Edition that it's "absolute chaos" in the area.
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    A protester stands behind barricades during clashes with police in Kiev. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported on Morning Edition that it's "absolute chaos" in the area.
    Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images
  • Riot police face anti-government protesters during clashes in Kiev. Police there attacked an opposition camp at the center of the massive anti-government protests that began in November.
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    Riot police face anti-government protesters during clashes in Kiev. Police there attacked an opposition camp at the center of the massive anti-government protests that began in November.
    Sergey Gapon/AFP/Getty Images
  • People carry a wounded anti-government protester to a waiting ambulance in Kiev. The international community on Wednesday urged restraint and threatened sanctions against those responsible for the violence.
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    People carry a wounded anti-government protester to a waiting ambulance in Kiev. The international community on Wednesday urged restraint and threatened sanctions against those responsible for the violence.
    Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
  • An anti-government protester holds a crucifix in Independence Square in Kiev. Late last year, President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow, leading to protests against his government.
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    An anti-government protester holds a crucifix in Independence Square in Kiev. Late last year, President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow, leading to protests against his government.
    Marko Drobnjakovic/AP
  • Fires burn in Independence Square on Wednesday.
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    Fires burn in Independence Square on Wednesday.
    Liu Hongxia/Xinhua/Landov
  • Anti-government protesters throw Molotov cocktails in Kiev's Independence Square during clashes with police. Streets and squares in Ukraine's capital are littered with rocks, bricks, spent stun grenades and tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and burning tires, the BBC's David Stern said on Morning Edition.
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    Anti-government protesters throw Molotov cocktails in Kiev's Independence Square during clashes with police. Streets and squares in Ukraine's capital are littered with rocks, bricks, spent stun grenades and tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and burning tires, the BBC's David Stern said on Morning Edition.
    Yevgeny Maloletka/ITAR-TASS/Landov
  • Anti-government demonstrators rest at a barricade near the site of clashes with Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
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    Anti-government demonstrators rest at a barricade near the site of clashes with Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
    Konstantin Grishin/Reuters/Landov
  • An anti-government protester throws a stone during clashes in Kiev. At least 26 people were killed Tuesday and an additional 241 were injured on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
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    An anti-government protester throws a stone during clashes in Kiev. At least 26 people were killed Tuesday and an additional 241 were injured on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
    Efrem Lukatsky/AP
  • Armed with a large slingshot, anti-government demonstrators fire objects toward Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
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    Armed with a large slingshot, anti-government demonstrators fire objects toward Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
    Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters/Landov

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This post is being updated as the day continues.

Just hours after a truce was declared, deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces broke out again in Ukraine's capital.

By the end of Thursday in Kiev, more than 20 civilians had been killed, Reuters reported. Those deaths followed some 25 fatalities earlier in the week.

But the day's toll may have been even higher: CNN reported being told by "the head of the protesters' medical service" that 100 people had died Thursday and another 500 were injured.

THE LATEST

— 6:30 p.m. ET. 75 Dead:

The BBC reports that Ukraine's health ministry now puts the total death toll at 75, since the violence erupted Feb. 18.

— 2 p.m. ET. Diplomats Will Stay In Kiev:

"Foreign ministers from France, Germany and Poland will continue talks with Ukrainian officials and opposition leaders through the night, a Polish foreign ministry spokesman said." (Reuters, which puts the latest death toll at 67.)

— Noon ET. White House Condemns The Violence: "We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people," press secretary Jay Carney says in a statement.

— 10:15 a.m. ET. Police Officers Reportedly Captured: "Interior ministry says 67 police captured by protesters in Kiev," the AP writes. The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse reports being told by protesters that "they took 30 police captive this morning. Others said to have surrendered. Not clear where they are now."

— 10 a.m. ET: 100 Deaths? CNN says it has been told by the "head of the protesters' medical service" that 100 people died today.

The newly intensified crisis led a Ukrainian athlete to abandon her Olympic quest Thursday.

"Bogdana Matsotska says she will withdraw Friday from the slalom, her best event at the Winter Games," NPR's Corey Flintoff reports. "Matsotska says she doesn't want to participate when people in her country are dying."

Earlier today, there was word in Kiev that Ukraine's Interior ministry said 67 police officers had been "captured" by protesters. The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, though, said protesters had told him "they took 30 police captive this morning. Others said to have surrendered. Not clear where they are now."

NPR's team in Kiev "saw protesters surround eight of the young officers and escort them to safety," as Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported for All Things Considered.

The European Union is attempting to intervene. The Polish, German and French foreign ministers were in Kiev today to meet with President Viktor Yanukovych, Soraya says. She added that sanctions could be announced as soon as Friday.

Soraya also says that "there are new signs that Yanukovych's grip on power is weakening. The mayor of Kiev and nearly a dozen other officials belonging to the ruling Party of Regions announced they are quitting their party."

The White House blamed Ukraine's government for the latest carnage.

"We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people," press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement released to reporters. "We urge President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw his security forces ... and to respect the right of peaceful protest, and we urge protesters to express themselves peacefully. We urge the Ukrainian military not to get involved in a conflict that can and should be resolved by political means. ... The United States will work with our European allies to hold those responsible for violence accountable."

From the city's Independence Square, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported earlier today that it was a scene of "absolute chaos." She saw numerous people carried away on stretchers — one person completely covered by a sheet. Small explosions can be heard. Protest leaders were warning of snipers on rooftops. The opposition appears to have retaken control of the October Palace, a historic building that's now a cultural center. Smoke was rising over the city.

The protesters, Soraya said, say police forces and "thugs" who support Yanukovych never observed the truce that was announced last night.

Yanukovych's office, though, released a statement blaming the opposition for Thursday's deadly violence. It reads, in part:

"Radical protesters ... launched an offensive on the law enforcement officials using firearms despite the declared truce. Assurances of opposition leaders regarding the necessity of truce and restoration of dialogue turned out only a maneuver to play for time and mobilize arming of rebels. ...

"All attempts of the government to establish dialogue and resolve the conflict peacefully were ignored by rebels. They launched an offensive. They act in organized armed groups, use firearms, including sniper rifles, they shoot to kill. ..."

On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Kiev

President Obama, as The Guardian reports, has had critical words about Russian President Vladimir Putin's role in the crisis. Russia, Obama said Wednesday, still views the world through a "Cold War chessboard" and needs to support the people of Ukraine in their effort to secure basic freedoms.

The U.S. has also said it will not issue travel visas to 20 senior Ukrainian officials.

Russia opposes sanctions against the Yanukovych government.

Britain's foreign ministry said it has summoned Ukraine's ambassador to the U.K. to a meeting.

As we've reported before, the anti-Yanukovych protests that have been raging for weeks were sparked in part by the president's rejection of a pending trade treaty with the European Union and his embrace of more aid from Russia. Protesters have also been drawn into the streets to demonstrate against government corruption.

We'll be updating on the news from Kiev.

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