KIEV, February 19 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s main government security agency declared what it called a nationwide anti-terrorism operation on Wednesday.
The announcement came as the authorities continued attempts to dismantle a protest camp in the capital Kiev a day after 25 people died and more than a thousand were injured in violent clashes between riot police and anti-government demonstrators.
Oleskandr Yakymenko, head of the Ukrainian Security Service (known by its Ukrainian acronym SBU) described the violence as “deliberate terrorist acts.”
“Today we are witnessing deliberate and intended violence – arsons, killings, hostage-taking and intimidations – committed with a purpose to achieve unlawful goals,” he said in a statement.
The SBU said that members of extremist groups had seized at least 1,500 firearms and 100,000 cartridges in the ongoing riots. It gave no information about where these weapons came from.
“Radical and extremist groups pose a real threat to millions of Ukrainian citizens. That’s why the SBU and the Anti-terrorism Center have decided to launch an anti-terrorism operation in Ukraine,” Yakymenko said.
The announcement coincided with a seizure of a regional SBU office in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. A crowd of protesters burst into the practically empty building and smashed cars in a parking lot outside the office, setting fire to one of the vehicles.