U.S. issues travel alert for Ukraine on deadliest day of protests

U.S. travelers in Ukraine are advised to keep a low profile and stay inside at night to avoid deadly violence between protesters and anti-riot police that erupted in Kiev's Independence Square on Tuesday. Americans in the country's capital should "leave those areas or prepare to remain indoors, possibly for several days, should clashes occur," according to the State Department alert.

The alert was issued on the deadliest day in the 3-month-old anti-government uprising. The statement also told Americans to beware of "extraordinary measures" that may be underway to quell the protests in coming days. Media reports say at least 20 people were killed Tuesday.

Subway service and roads around Independence Square were shut down too. Thousands of protesters had been camped out in the square when their tent city was set afire by riot police Tuesday.

The protests began Nov. 21 when President Viktor Yanukovich rejected a trade deal with Europe. It has escalated in scope since then, with violent outbursts and demands for Yanukovich to step down. Opposition leaders are asking to enter into negotiations with the government -- a move the U.S. government supports as a way to de-escalate the situation.

The protests in the Ukraine stole the spotlight from the 2014 Winter Games in neighboring Russia, which are underway in Sochi more than 800 miles away.

The alert expires May 17.

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