At least 15 dead after Russian rockets hit building in Donetsk, local officials say

At least 15 people have been killed and two dozen others fear being trapped after Russian Uragan rockets hit a five-story building in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, local officials said on Sunday as rescuers were digging through the rubble.

Ukraine also reported clashes with Russian troops on the eastern and southern fronts, while Moscow said its forces struck Ukrainian army hangars storing American-made M777 howitzers, a type artillery in Donetsk.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, Governor of Donetsk, said the strike against the building took place on Saturday evening in the town of Chasiv Yar. The regional emergency service said the death toll stood at 15 as of Sunday afternoon, but another 24 people could still be under the rubble.

“We ran to the basement, there were three shots, the first somewhere in the kitchen,” said a resident who went by the name Ludmila, speaking as rescuers removed a body in a white sheet and cleared the rubble using a crane and their hands.

A rescue worker digs through the rubble at the scene after rockets hit a building in the town of Chasiv Yar on Saturday night. (Nariman El-Mofty/Associated Press)

« The second [strike], I don’t even remember, there was lightning. We ran to the second entrance, then straight into the basement. We sat there all night until this morning. »

Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a Telegram post that the strike was « another terrorist attack » and that Russia should therefore be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians.

The provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk comprise Donbass, the eastern industrial region of Ukraine. Russia wants to wrest control of Donbass in the name of the separatists it supports.

Moscow says the ejection of the Ukrainian army from the region is at the heart of what it calls its « special military operation » to ensure its own security, an offensive that has lasted more than four months and that the West calls an unprovoked war.

Russia says American-made howitzers are targeted

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces on Saturday destroyed two hangars near the Donetsk town of Kostyantynivka, just southwest of Chasiv Yar. The ministry said the hangars contained the American-made M777 howitzers, which it said were used to shell residential areas in Donetsk.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the request.

Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near the town of Sloviansk in Donetsk but were forced to withdraw, the Ukrainian military said. He also said Russian forces launched a cruise missile attack on the northeastern city of Kharkiv from their side of the border. He gave no details of the damage or casualties.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been targeted throughout the war, including several times in the past week.

A teacher is seen on Sunday clearing debris from a school that was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike last week in the center of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces were gathering in the area of ​​the village of Bilohorivka, about 50 kilometers east of Sloviansk.

« The enemy (…) is bombing surrounding settlements, carrying out air strikes, but still unable to quickly occupy the entire Luhansk region, » he said on Telegram.

Russia claimed control of the entire Luhansk province last weekend.

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What happened in week 20 of the Russian attack on Ukraine

Russia declares victory at Lugansk and advances south to gain the rest of Donbass. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to regain lost territory, and Canada becomes the first country to ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession protocols.

In Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych reported on Telegram that six Russian missiles were fired at his town on Saturday but there were no casualties.

“On that day only, Russia struck Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih, villages in the Zaporizhzhia region,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. « He hit residential areas, absolutely consciously and on purpose. »

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

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Ukrainian military spokespersons were not immediately available for comment.

Ukrainian forces mounted fierce resistance and the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an attempt to force it to withdraw.

In the south, Ukrainian forces fired missiles and artillery at Russian positions, including ammunition depots in the Chernobaivka region, the Ukrainian military command said.


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