Cameraman for Britain's Sky News Takes Fire in Kiev as Violence Escalates

Protestors in Kiev
Protestors in Kiev
 AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

An international television news crew covering the violent antigovernment protests in Kiev was fired on with live ammunition Thursday.

Britain's Sky News reported that a bullet had come through the bedroom window of a hotel from which its cameraman was filming protestors shoring up defenses on Kiev's Independence Square.

The violence in the Ukrainian capital, which left as many as 25 people dead overnight after fighting with security forces flared, has come to the very doorstep of the four-star Hotel Khreschatyk, where media are stationed, now the center of some of the heaviest fighting.

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In Kiev, Sky News reporter David Bowden said a "new front line" had emerged some 100 meters from the main square after protestors pushed their way up nearby streets toward the government district, a heavily defended area that includes the Ukrainian parliament and headquarters of President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

There are reports that police are firing live rounds, and journalists in Kiev say that many protestors are carrying weapons.

Bowden, reporting live from Kiev Thursday morning, said it was thought the bullet -- which smashed a window before it hit the ceiling without causing injury -- was fired by antigovernment protestors who feared the cameraman was working for Ukrainian security services. The news channel has now stopped filming from windows or doing stand-ups in the streets in the city center.

He told viewers that as protestors battle the government forces, "police are hitting back and are shooting -- probably not at random -- but they are shooting with live rounds at protestors."

He added: "I've seen at least a dozen people pulled out injured. I think this is going to be a fairly bloody day."

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The foreign journalists staying at the Hotel Khreschatyk -- located in the midst of the front lines of the battle for Kiev -- woke up Thursday morning to find its lobby turned into a makeshift morgue. The BBC reported seeing at least five dead bodies laid out among scores of seriously injured protestors.

The hotel -- where correspondents from the BBC, Sky, London-based newspapers The Times and The Daily Telegraph as well as TV crews from a wide range of international news outlets -- is now being used as a base by protestors. That could put journalists staying at the $120 a night hotel at further risk.

On Wednesday, Russian journalist Vyacheslav Veremei of Moscow-based newspaper Vesti, was among those killed. He was said to have been pulled from a car by progovernment thugs known as titushki, beaten and then later shot in the stomach.

A video has emerged of antigovernment protestors acting to prevent more titushki being bused into Kiev. A coach that was ferrying a group of men to Kiev was stopped and set alight on a highway outside the city. The video, shot at night, shows the bus burning as people run away from it. It is not clear where or when the film was made.

As many as 50 people have been killed since the situation turned violent in late January, after months of peaceful protests.

The antigovernment protests were sparked last November after President Yanukovych turned his back on a trade and political deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, angering many who were pinning dreams of a better standard of living on that.

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