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Russian strikes kill 16, including rescuers, in Odesa

Local authorities said Russian aeriel bombardments struck residential buildings and cars leaving at least 14 people dead and wounding another 46 people, including rescuers
Local authorities said Russian aeriel bombardments struck residential buildings and cars leaving at least 14 people dead and wounding another 46 people, including rescuers - Copyright UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP Handout
Local authorities said Russian aeriel bombardments struck residential buildings and cars leaving at least 14 people dead and wounding another 46 people, including rescuers - Copyright UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY SERVICE/AFP Handout
Oleksandr GIMANOV

Ukraine said Friday that Russian forces had pounded the Black Sea port city of Odesa with missiles, killing more than a dozen people including a paramedic and a rescue worker. 

AFP journalists on the scene saw bodies covered by blankets arrayed on the street while images from officials showed exhausted emergency service workers smeared with blood and dirt dousing flames and treating wounded colleagues.

Local authorities said Russian aerial bombardments struck residential buildings, cars and a gas pipeline leaving at least 16 people dead and wounding another 55 people, including rescuers.

“Russian terror in Odesa is a sign of weakness of the enemy, which is fighting Ukrainian civilians at a time when it cannot guarantee security for people on its own territory,” said Andriy Yermak, a senior government official in Kyiv.

Yermak was apparently referring to a series of fatal Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory and several attempts by pro-Kyiv militias to gain a hold inside Russian border regions this week.

There was no immediate comment on the strikes from Russia, whose forces have routinely targeted the transport hub with drones and missiles.

City officials said Moscow had targeted Odesa with the Iskander missiles launched from the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The strikes came on the first day of presidential elections in Russia, which is also hosting the vote in several occupied regions of Ukraine, angering Kyiv.

This month, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came under missile attacks in Odesa, when Russia said it was targeting military facilities at the city’s port.

– Kyiv, Moscow exchange barrages –

That bombardment came just days after a dozen people — including five children — were killed when a Russian drone hit an apartment block in Odesa, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in weeks.

Friday’s attack was just the latest in a series of fatal barrages between Kyiv and Moscow, as polls opened across Russia.

Kyiv said that a Russian drone strike killed two people in the central Ukrainian region of Vinnytsia, and that shelling on the frontline Zaporizhzhia region killed one woman.

National police said that Russia had attacked the Vinnytsia region, more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the frontlines, with drones.

“As a result of the enemy attack, a 52-year-old man was killed and his 53-year-old wife died in hospital,” it said.

In the southern Zaporizhzhia region, which Moscow claims to have annexed and partially controls, a 76-year-old woman was killed when fragments of a Russian shell hit her in her garden, Ukrainian Governor Ivan Fedorov said.

– ‘Trying to break through’ –

Moscow-installed officials in the Russian-held city of Donetsk said a “barbaric” Ukrainian attack on a residential area had killed three children.

“Three children died. A girl born in 2007, a girl born in 2021, and a boy born in 2014,” Alexey Kulemzin, the Russian-appointed mayor of Donetsk, wrote on Telegram.

Russia also said Ukraine launched drone and artillery attacks on areas closer to the countries’ shared border. 

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said in a post on Telegram: “The town of Grayvoron came under Ukrainian army shelling.”

“There is a dead man. He is a member of our territorial self-defence unit,” he said.

Gladkov later added another man had been killed and two more injured by shrapnel in shelling of Belgorod city.

The uptick in attacks on Russia’s border regions come after its forces last month captured the city of Avdiivka, just a few kilometres north of Donetsk.

It said pushing Ukrainian forces back would help protect residents of areas under its control from shelling.

The head of Ukraine’s army said Friday that Russia had launched a wave of attacks to try to advance further in the area.

“The enemy has concentrated its main efforts and has been trying to break through … for several days in a row,” Ukrainian commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrsky said in a statement after visiting front lines around Avdiivka.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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