UKRAINIAN protesters have erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building, fuelling tension after the failure of crisis talks with President Viktor Yanukovich.
In response to opposition calls, about 1000 demonstrators moved away from Kiev's Independence Square early yesterday and began to erect new barricades closer to presidential headquarters.
Masked protesters, some carrying riot police shields seized as trophies, stood guard as others piled up sandbags packed with frozen snow to form new ramparts across the road leading down into the square. Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, after leaving a second round of talks with Mr Yanukovich empty-handed, has voiced fears that the impasse could now lead to further bloodshed.
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At least three protesters have been killed so far - two from gunshot wounds - after clashes between protesters led by a hard core of radicals and riot police.
After speaking first to protesters manning the barricades, Mr Klitschko then went to Independence Square where he declared: "Hours of conversation were spent about nothing. There is no sense sitting at a negotiating table with someone who has already decided to deceive you.
"I earnestly wish there will be no bloodshed and that people are not killed. I will survive, but I am afraid there will be deaths, I am afraid of this."
Three opposition politicians - boxer-turned politician Mr Klitschko, former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok - had tried to wring concessions from Mr Yanukovich that would end two months of street protests.
A group of protesters took control of the main agricultural ministry building in the centre.
Meanwhile, radical protesters near Dynamo Kiev football stadium - the new flashpoint in the city - cranked up their action, setting tyres ablaze again and sending a pall of black smoke over the area.
There are reports that protests are spreading to other parts of Ukraine.