Ukraine protests
Anti-government protesters rally outside a traffic police station during a show of force in KievReuters

Ukrainian riot police 'deliberately' attacked journalists and medics who were at the protest sites in the capital Kiev, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

Reporters and medical workers were injured when the security personnel fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse large mobs of protesters, the rights group said.

The group said it appeared the forces deliberately targeted media and medical workers, or that efforts were not made to ensure their safety.

"It is possible to accidentally hit one journalist or medic during violent confrontations, but not dozens. Police faced enormous challenges during the street fighting, but that's no excuse for deliberately targeting reporters and medics or for not taking precautions to spare them," said Anna Neistat, associate program director of HRW, who is in Kiev.

Ukraine has witnessed severe anti-government protests in the past two months after President Viktor Yanukovych decided to backtrack from signing a trade deal with the European Union.

Although the protests largely remained peaceful in the beginning, violent clashes have been reported recently in opposition rallies.

The HRW has documented at least 13 cases of police attacks on media personnel covering the worsening protests.

Available evidence strongly suggests that the [Ukrainian] police deliberately targeted the journalists while they were covering confrontations.
- HRW

Nearly 60 reporters from various media outlets are reported to have been attacked. The majority of them are Ukrainian, and were injured at protest scenes around Kiev.

Condemning the situation, HRW has called for international intervention for securing the safety of media and medical staff.

"Journalists and medical workers were performing their professional duties, were unarmed, and posed no danger to the police during the Kiev protests. Every instance of violence against them should be fully investigated and those responsible should be punished," said Neistat.

The statement from the international right group has said there is enough evidence to suggest the "police deliberately targeted the journalists while they were covering confrontations."