Kiev protest violence kills scores

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Paramedic look at the identification document of a killed anti-government protester, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. A brief truce in Ukraine’s embattled capital failed Thursday, spiraling into fierce clashes between police and anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Paramedic look at the identification document of a killed anti-government protester, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. A brief truce in Ukraine’s embattled capital failed Thursday, spiraling into fierce clashes between police and anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Activists and priests pay respects to protesters who were killed in clashes with police, a flag held by one activist reads “For Ukraine.” in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Fierce clashes between police and protesters in Ukraine’s capital have shattered the brief truce Thursday and an Associated Press reporter has seen dozens of bodies laid out on the edge of the protest encampment. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, in Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Ukraine’s protest leaders and the president they aim to oust called a truce Wednesday, just hours after the military raised fears of a widespread crackdown with a vow to defeat “terrorists” responsible for seizing weapons and burning down buildings. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

An anti-government protester guards the barricade in front of riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, in Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Ukraine’s protest leaders and the president they aim to oust called a truce Wednesday, just hours after the military raised fears of a widespread crackdown with a vow to defeat “terrorists” responsible for seizing weapons and burning down buildings. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicenter of the country’s current unrest, in Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Ukraine’s protest leaders and the president they aim to oust called a truce Wednesday, just hours after the military raised fears of a widespread crackdown with a vow to defeat “terrorists” responsible for seizing weapons and burning down buildings. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Protesters advanced on police lines in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, prompting government snipers to shoot back and kill scores of people in the country’s deadliest day since the breakup of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago.

The European Union imposed sanctions on those deemed responsible for the violence and three EU foreign ministers held a long day of talks in Kiev with both embattled President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the protests seeking his ouster. But it’s increasingly unclear whether either side has the will or ability to compromise.

Yanukovych and the opposition protesters are locked in a battle over the identity of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. Parts of the country — mostly in its western cities — are in open revolt against Yanukovych’s central government, while many in eastern Ukraine back the president and favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

Protesters across the country are also upset over corruption in Ukraine, the lack of democratic rights and the country’s ailing economy, which just barely avoided bankruptcy with a $15 billion aid infusion from Russia.

The clashes in central Kiev may have only hardened protesters to continue their push for Yanukovych’s resignation and early presidential and parliamentary elections. Despite the violence, people streamed toward the square Thursday afternoon as other protesters hurled wood, refuse and tires on barricades.

“The price of freedom is too high, but Ukrainians are paying it,” said Viktor Danilyuk, a 30-year-old protester. “We have no choice, the government isn’t hearing us.”

At least 101 people have died this week in the clashes in Kiev, according to protesters and Ukrainian authorities, a sharp reversal in three months of mostly peaceful protests. Now neither side appears willing to compromise.

Thursday was the deadliest day yet at the sprawling protest camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, also called the Maidan. Snipers were seen shooting at protesters there — and video footage showed at least one sniper wearing a Ukraine riot police uniform.

One of the wounded, volunteer medic Olesya Zhukovskaya, sent out a brief Twitter message — “I’m dying” — after she was shot in the neck. Dr. Oleh Musiy, the medical coordinator for the protesters, said she was in serious condition after undergoing surgery.

Musiy told The Associated Press that at least 70 protesters were killed Thursday and over 500 were wounded in the clashes — and that the death toll could rise further.

In addition, three policemen were killed Thursday and 28 suffered gunshot wounds, Interior Ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov told the AP.

The National Health Ministry said a total of 75 people died in the clashes Tuesday and Thursday, but did not give a breakdown. Earlier Thursday, however, it said 28 people had died.

There was no way to immediately verify any of the death tolls. Earlier in the day, an AP reporter saw the bodies of 21 protesters laid out near Kiev’s protest camp.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, along with his German and Polish counterparts, said after a five-hour meeting with Yanukovych and another with opposition leaders that they discussed new elections and a new government, but gave no details. The three resumed meeting with Yanukovych late Thursday.

“For now, there are no results,” said an opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes Thursday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid. Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or planks of wood.

Protesters were also seen leading policemen, their hands held high, around the sprawling protest camp in central Kiev. Ukraine’s Interior ministry says 67 police were captured in all. An opposition

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