Ukrainian protesters poured on to a central Kiev square on Wednesday, preparing to confront police anew after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence.
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After hours of clashes, police had gained ground overnight in Independence Square, centre of three months of protests against President Viktor Yanukovich, and were occupying about a third of the square at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Wednesday.
The square resembled a battle-zone with black smoke and flames belching from a trade union building, used as an anti-government headquarters.
The Health Ministry, updating the casualty toll, said 25 people had been killed in the fighting in the capital, of which nine were police officers.
Many were killed by gunshot and hundreds of people were injured, with dozens in serious condition, police and opposition representatives said.
Police, protected by a barrier of shields, were destroying protesters' tents and anti-government posters on the eastern side of the square.
But protesters, many of them masked and in battle fatigues, were pouring onto the square from another direction and preparing to take on police for a second straight day.
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As priests intoned prayers from a stage on the part of the square still held by protesters, young men in hard-hats were constructing elbow and knee pads - protection against baton blows. Others were pouring inflammable liquid into bottles - apparently to be used as petrol bombs.