A tentative truce between anti-government protesters in Kiev and the Ukrainian government broke down Thursday as protesters hurled molotov cocktails and advanced on police lines, and government snipers opened fire, the Associated Press reports.
At least 70 people are dead and 500 more are wounded, according to the head of the protesters’ medical coordinator.
The White House has strongly condemned the bloodshed, calling for President Yanukovych to withdraw forces and respect the Ukrainian people’s right to protest.
Anti-government protests began in November after Yanukovych’s government rejected a restrictive trade deal with the European Union in favor of a multi-billion dollar bailout from Russia.
Protesters around the country took to the streets, including Independence Square in the capital of Kiev. The Ukrainian parliament passed strict anti-protest laws in late January, leading to the deaths of two protesters on January 22, the first protest-related deaths.
As tensions rose, the Ukrainian parliament passed an amnesty bill on January 29 for protesters in exchange for them vacating key government buildings.
On February 17, Russia announced it would resume the controversial financial assistance to Ukraine. On February 18, parliament rejected changes to the constitution, sparking the latest round of violence.