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Kiev Truce Ends, Leading to Upsurge in Killings

A photograph posted on Twitter by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski showing armed goverment troops. Twitter / Radoslaw Sikorski

(Updated 5:38 p.m. Feb. 20)

The truce between police and anti-government protesters in Kiev has come to a swift end, with dozens killed on Thursday amid renewed violence in the Ukrainian capital.

The Kyiv Post has reported that at least 37 protesters have been killed, citing its own reporters and other journalists' accounts, while the BBC put the figure somewhere between 22 and 27.

Most of the victims appear to have been victims of gunshot wounds, with witnesses reporting the use of live rounds, petrol bombs and water cannons at the main protest site, Independence Square.

Activists have claimed that snipers opened fire on protesters from the roof tops, journalist Roland Oliphant said on Twitter.

Several minutes later he wrote "casualties I checked all killed by single bullets to the head. Professional."

BBC journalists based in the Ukraine Hotel in central Kiev reported that 12 dead bodies had been brought into the lobby, which was being used as a hospital and a morgue.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that three police officers have been killed and another 50 wounded.

Despite the outbreak of violence, talks between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France have opened in Kiev, but at a different location.

EU foreign ministers will meet later in Brussels to discuss the possibility of taking sanctions against Ukraine.

Yanukovych's office has reportedly said that the truce was used as a ploy by the opposition to allow them time to regroup and that police are not using lethal weapons.

In a sign that support for Yanukovych could be eroding within his own party, mayor Volodymyr Makeyenko quit the ruling Party of Regions over an earlier decision to close the Kiev metro to prevent more protesters reaching Independence Square, Interfax reported.

Left Shore news agency reported that more than 10 deputies have left the party in the last day.

Reports of a mass change of allegiance by police in Kiev have been rejected by the Interior Ministry, however.

Before the renewed outbreak of violence on Thursday, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said 28 people had been killed in violent street clashes this week, with a further 247 people requiring hospitalization.

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