World News

    25 Dead in Escalation of Clashes in Ukraine

    Thousands of anti-government protesters remained in the main square in Ukraine's capital Wednesday, after a day of fierce clashes with riot police left at least 25 people dead in the worst violence in three months of political demonstrations.

    Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych has blamed opposition leaders for the violence, which escalated as riot police charged the main opposition protest camp in Kyiv late Tuesday. Mr. Yanukovych said activists who urged others protesters to bring weapons to the anti-government demonstration have disregarded the principles of democracy and must face legal repercussions.

    Police and opposition representatives said many of those killed in the unrest were hit by gunshots. Dozens of the injured were serious condition. Nine of the dead were police officers.

    European Union officials have called an emergency meeting on Ukraine at which members will discuss whether to impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence.

    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said she is "deeply worried" about the situation and added that the EU is ready to assist Ukraine in a return to the parliamentary process. She said the EU will consider "all possible options" as responses to the unrest, including "restrictive measures" against those responsible for the violence.

    Earlier, Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko met with President Yanukovych for talks, but the meeting failed to produce a breakthrough. Klitschko said the president demanded protesters "stop the standoff" and unconditionally clear the square. He urged the pro-Western demonstrators occupying Kyiv's Independence Square - also known as Maidan - to defend their positions. Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the barricades encircling the protest camp early Wednesday.



    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released a statement saying he is "shocked and gravely concerned" about the escalation of violence and said use of violence by either side is unacceptable.

    Ukrainian champion pole vaulter and head of Ukraine's Olympic Committee, Sergei Bubka, made a public appeal for peace Wednesday, calling on both sides to observe the "Olympic truce," a voluntary halt to violence during the international games that take place every two years.

    The United States has issued a travel warning for its citizens in Ukraine, warning them to "maintain a low profile" while in the capital and be prepared to remain indoors at night, if necessary to avoid the clashes.

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Mr. Yanukovych late Tuesday to express "grave concern" about the violence, calling on the Ukrainian president to pull back security forces and to exercise maximum restraint. Biden told Mr. Yanukovych his government bears "special responsibility" to resolve the crisis.

    Anti-government protests have been building for weeks, with activists calling for Mr. Yanukovych's ouster after he backed away from a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

    Protesters, some armed with clubs and wearing helmets and body armor, attempted to stand their ground in central Kyiv, hurling firebombs and stones at police as plumes of smoke billowed from burning tents and piles of tires and wood.

    Security forces have been steadily gaining ground in the square, where thousands of protesters still remained, hearing speeches from their leaders and singing the national anthem.

    Police confirmed the unrest has spread outside Kyiv to a number of regions in western Ukraine that support closer ties to the European Union. In Lviv, anti-government demonstrators seized the regional administration building and police headquarters.

    In Moscow, authorities blamed the violence on Western governments, accusing them of encouraging "radical forces" among the protesters.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora