April 13, 2024

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Ukraine says at least 13 people were killed in a Russian missile attack on a shopping mall

Ukraine says at least 13 people were killed in a Russian missile attack on a shopping mall
  • Ukrainian officials say a shopping center was hit by missiles
  • President Zelensky condemns the attack
  • Russia denies targeting civilians in Ukraine

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Two Russian missiles struck a crowded shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchug on Monday, killing at least 13 people and wounding 50, the region’s governor said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 1,000 people were in the mall at the time of the attack, which witnesses said caused a massive fire and sent black smoke billowing into the sky.

A Reuters reporter saw the charred crust of a mall with a collapsed roof. Firefighters and soldiers were pulling out mutilated pieces of metal as they searched for survivors.

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“It is impossible even to imagine the number of victims … There is no point in hoping for morals and humanity from Russia,” Zelensky wrote in the Telegram messaging app.

Dmytro Lunin, the governor of the Central Poltava region, wrote on Telegram that 13 people had been confirmed dead in the raid, adding that it was too early to speak of the final death toll as rescuers continued to search for rubble.

Lunin also wrote on Telegram that 21 people were hospitalized, and 29 others received first aid without hospitalization.

“It is an act of terrorism against civilians,” he said separately, noting that there was no nearby military target that Russia could have targeted.

At one point, paramedics rushed to the building after rescuers called “200” which meant they had found one or more bodies in the building. Subsequently, the journalists were removed from the scene as the sirens sounded again.

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Ukraine wants more weapons

As night began, rescuers brought lights and generators to continue the search. Concerned family members, some close to crying with their hands over their mouths, lined up at a hotel across the street from the mall where rescue workers had set up base.

Kirill Zibolovsky, 24, was looking for his friend Ruslan, 22, who worked in an electronics store and had not been heard from since the explosion. “We sent him messages, we called him, but nothing,” he said. He left his name and phone number with rescue workers in case his friend was found.

A worker at the center, who gave his name as Roman (28 years), told Reuters that the management of the center allowed only three days ago to keep stores open during the sirens.

Kremenchug, an industrial city with a population of 217,000 before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, is located on the Dnipro River in the Poltava region and is the site of the largest oil refinery in Ukraine.

The command of the Ukrainian Air Force said that the commercial center was hit by two X-22 long-range missiles fired by Tu-22M3 bombers flying from Chaikovka airport in Russia’s Kaluga region.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, wrote on Twitter, without citing evidence, that the attack was a “Ukrainian provocation.”

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“Exactly what the Kyiv regime needs to focus attention on Ukraine ahead of NATO,” he said, referring to the alliance’s meeting in Madrid scheduled to start on Tuesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the upcoming summit will approve a new aid package for Ukraine in areas “such as secure communications, drone systems and fuel.”

“We need more weapons to protect our people, we need missile defences,” Andrei Yermak, the president’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter after the attack.

Vadim Denisenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, said Russia may have had three motives behind the attack.

“The first, without a doubt, is to sow panic, the second is … to destroy our infrastructure, and the third is to … raise the stakes to get the civilized West back to the table,” he said.

Russia, which seized the eastern city of Severodonetsk after a weeks-long offensive, has stepped up missile strikes across Ukraine in recent days. Read more

Rockets hit an apartment building and landed near a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, killing one person and injuring several others. Read more

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(Reporting by Simon Lewis). Additional reporting by Pavel Politiuk and Max Hunder; Written by Tom Balmforth and Max Hunder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alistair Bell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.