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Ukrainian protesters seek refuge

A handful of anti-government protesters have taken shelter inside the Canadian embassy in Ukraine's capital after riot police barged into a large opposition camp with stun grenades and water cannons.

Fewer than a dozen protesters sought refuge Tuesday in the reception area of the embassy in Kyiv to escape the violent crackdown.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office says they are peaceful and have not caused any damage or harm to staff.

Canadian embassy workers are safe and accounted for, spokesman Adam Hodge said.

"We hope that the situation improves quickly so that they can safely leave the embassy premises at the earliest possible opportunity," Hodge said in an email.

"We expect these individuals to be able to leave the embassy safely, free from intimidation, arrest or further harassment."

Thousands of police officers broke down barricades on the edge of Kyiv's Independence Square.

But they were repelled by 20,000 protesters armed with rocks, bats and fire bombs.

The protests began last November after President Viktor Yanukovych's froze ties with the European Union in exchange for a $15-billion bailout from Russia.

— With files and video from The Associated Press

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The Canadian Press

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