Kiev: Ukrainian riot police stormed the main opposition camp in Kiev Tuesday after clashes left at least seven dead in the bloodiest day in three months of protests, triggering international alarm.
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko called on women and children to quit the encampment on Kiev's iconic Independence Square as riot police began their assault.
But some 25,000 protestors remained on the square after the expiry of a 6:00pm (1600 GMT) ultimatum from security forces demanding calm be restored.
Police said five civilians and two policemen had died during a day of clashes that turned parts of central Kiev into a war zone.
Protesters seized back control of Kiev's city hall, with around 30 activists setting up a first aid point inside the building, which the opposition had left on Sunday as part of an amnesty deal with the authorities, according to media.
The European Union, UN, US and Nato all voiced concern over the clashes, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying she was “deeply worried about the grave new escalation”.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for restraint and dialogue, while Washington said it was “appalled” by the violence and said Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych must “de-escalate the situation”.
Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was “seriously concerned” and urged “all parties to refrain from violence and to urgently resume dialogue, including through the parliamentary process”.