As dozens lay dead in the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Thursday, Ukraine's Interior Minister announced he had authorized forces to use combat weapons. Shocking footage emerged of police snipers gunning down anti-government demonstrators.
Amid the brutal violence, hundreds of protesters were injured, according to medics. In a desperate attempt to treat the wounded, doctors established makeshift field hospitals in buildings around the capital, even in epicenter of protests.
The city's central post office, near the heart of the protests in Independence Square, was seized by protesters Wednesday, according to AP. Volunteer medics commandeered part of the space to treat the wounded and dying, Kyiv Post reported. One AFP reporter said the bodies of eight protesters were laid outside the post office on Thursday.
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Impromptu medical clinics were also established in hotel lobbies around Kiev, Sky News reported.
Several foreign journalists staying at the hotels came across the gruesome clashes first hand.
The lobby of our #Kiev hotel is now a makeshift hospital & morgue: casualties brought here from this morning's explosion of violence
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) February 20, 2014
A photo tweeted by the activist group Euromaidan even appeared to show rows of bodies laid out in one hotel.
Euromaidan morgue at the Hotel Ukraine pic.twitter.com/i0Dw1OUPEs
— ЄВРОМАЙДАН (@euromaidan) February 20, 2014
And according to RT, priests were on site at the makeshift clinics as the death toll climbed.
Ukrainian churches also provided respite to the injured. Kiev's central St. Michael's Cathedral, a protester refuge for several months, was briefly barricaded by police earlier in the week, but clergy managed to negotiate safe passage for the injured, Euronews reported.
Ukrainian TV on Thursday showed ambulances ferrying wounded protesters to safety, and a bustling makeshift clinic inside the chapel (see 2:16).
Dr. Olga Bogomolets told the BBC medics had opened surgeries in churches, cathedrals and monasteries, where they were treating severe injuries.
"There are real metal bullets shot into the lungs, into the heart. A lot of people lost their eyes, as they were shot exactly into their eyes," she said.
According to Dr. Bogomolets, this caution may be justified.
“We had to make an evacuation from the hospital because police are coming to the hospital and trying to take the (severely) wounded people to prison," she told the BBC. "We have hundreds of volunteers near the hospital trying not to allow the police near the hospital.”