Sunday, June 16, 2024

Several killed in attacks on Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Russia’s Belgorod

Several people have been killed and wounded in separate attacks in Ukraine and Russia, according to officials, as Moscow steps up its offensive in northeast Ukraine.

A Russian strike on a crowded DIY hardware store in Kharkiv killed 12 people and wounded dozens more, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Sunday morning, the death toll rising as the country’s second-largest city reeled from two attacks a day earlier.

Two guided bombs hit the Epicentr DIY hypermarket in a residential area of the city on Saturday afternoon, Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov stated on national television.

The strikes caused a massive fire which sent a column of thick, black smoke billowing hundreds of metres into the air.

Forty-three people were injured, the local prosecutors’ office continued, adding that ten of the twelve dead had still not been identified.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov stated about 120 people had been in the hardware store when the bombs struck.

“The attack targeted the shopping centre, where there were many people – this is clearly terrorism.”

In a post on the Telegram app, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko confirmed 16 people were still missing after the strike.

The past week has seen an uptick in strikes on the city after Russian troops stormed across the border, opening a new front north of the city.

Russia has bombarded Kharkiv, which lies less than 30 kilometres (20 miles) from its border, throughout the war, having reached its outskirts in a failed bid to capture it in 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a plea to Ukraine’s Western allies to help boost air defences to keep the country’s cities safe.

Ukrainian forces carried out multiple drone and artillery strikes on the Russian city of Belgorod and several villages near the border overnight, claiming the lives of four civilians and injuring many others including children, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated on Sunday.

Around 30 projectiles were shot down over the Russian border region on between Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, according to Gladkov. Despite the interceptions, the attacks caused multiple casualties.

“It grieves me to say that the number of civilian deaths has increased to four,” the official wrote on Telegram.

Three of the fatalities resulted from rocket strikes on Oktyabrsky village shortly before 7pm. Two people died on the spot, while another man succumbed to “shrapnel wounds to his lower extremities” in a hospital a few hours later.

Another woman “was killed as a result of a direct hit in the yard of a private residential house in the village of Dubovoye”, Gladkov wrote around 9pm, adding that she “was in a greenhouse at the time of the attack and died of her injuries before the ambulance arrived”.

While there were no casualties in the city of Belgorod itself, at least two apartment buildings suffered heavy damage as a result of direct artillery hits. Two schools were damaged by blasts and shrapnel, while several commercial buildings had their facades, windows and roofs partially destroyed. Several vehicles were hit, according to videos from the scene.

By midnight, the number of injured across the region had reached 16 people, including at least two children.

An eight-year-old boy who was wounded in the shelling of Oktyabrsky suffered a “blast injury and external trauma to the lumbar back region,” Gladkov wrote, adding that the child’s “condition has been characterized as of medium severity.”

In another incident, a nine-year-old girl was injured when a “moving car was attacked by a drone on the highway between the village of Borisovka and the village of Plotvyanka in the Volokonovsky district,” Gladkov added.

Belgorod has become the one of the main targets of Kiev’s attacks, following a bombardment on New Year’s Eve that killed 25 civilians at a festive event, with continued shelling and attempts to break through to Russian territory in recent months.

In early May, Moscow’s armed forces began a push into Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, which borders on the Belgorod Region, seizing numerous villages in an effort to create a buffer zone to curb cross-border attacks.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stressed that if Kiev continues to “shell residential areas in border territories”, Russia “will be forced to create a security zone” to deprive Kiev of the capability to make such strikes.

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