The clashes, the worst in Kiev in recent times, came amid mounting anger over new restrictions on protests ordered by President Viktor Yanukovych after almost two months of protests over his refusal to sign a pact for integration with the EU.

On Monday, a special commission set up by Yanukovych was due to meet representatives of the Opposition for emergency talks but it was unclear if this could in any way help ease the crisis.

In near apocalyptic scenes close to the Parliament, several police buses and vehicles were torched by the protesters who hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the ranks of the security forces. Police responded with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannon.

The White House urged an end to the violence, with US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden saying that Washington was deeply concerned and urging "all sides to immediately de-escalate the situation".

The spokeswoman warned that Washington was still considering sanctions against Ukrainian officials, a step urged by the Ukrainian opposition.

"US will continue to consider additional steps, including sanctions, in response to the use of violence,” he said.

After intense clashes continued into the early hours of Monday morning, the situation was calmer at 12:30 pm but hundreds of protesters who had spent the night in temperatures of minus 10 degree Celsius were still out on the streets.

However, the situation remained tense with protesters launching occasional sorties at the police line to throw stones or Molotov cocktails.

In the most violent scenes since the start of the protests in November, demonstrators set five buses and two trucks on fire while the air filled with the stench of tear gas.

Their faces covered by scarves or ski masks, many of the protesters wielded sticks or even chains. Later in the night, they began to dig the cobble stones out of the road to hurl at police and use as barricades.

The security forces made extensive use of water cannon in a bid to douse the protesters and push them back and used rubber bullets which activists said left dozens injured.

(Agencies)

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