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Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) - Protesters and government forces maintained a tense standoff Thursday night amid claims of sniper fire on the part of government forces and kidnapping of police by protesters, escalations that threatened to further destabilize the already precarious situation in this highly divided nation.
Earlier, authorities and protesters fought pitched battles in the streets near Independence Square, with protesters tossing rocks and firebombs at police under a sky blackened by smoke from their burning barricades. At least one protester fired toward police lines with a shotgun.