KYIV: A Russian strike on Ukraine’s recently recaptured city of Kherson killed at least 10 people, wounded 58 and left bloodied corpses on the road, authorities said, in what Kyiv condemned as wanton killing for pleasure.
A pro-Moscow official responded by saying Ukrainian forces had launched the attack in a bid to blame the Russian military.
Fresh from a trip to the US seeking weapons to resist the 10-month-old Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky published photos showing streets strewn with burning cars, smashed windows and bodies.
“Social networks will most likely mark these photos as ‘sensitive content’. But this is not sensitive content – it is the real life of Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he wrote.
“These are not military facilities. … It is terror, it is killing for the sake of intimidation and pleasure.”
Russia controls most but not all of Kherson region. Local governor Yaroslav Yanushevych, appointed by Kyiv, told national television the death toll had risen to 10, Interfax Ukraine news agency said.
Vladimir Saldo, the region’s Russian-installed governor, said Kyiv had ordered troops to shell the city.
“This is a disgusting provocation with the obvious aim of blaming the Russian armed forces,” he wrote on Telegram.
Yuriy Sobolevskyi, deputy chair of the regional council, said a missile landed next to a supermarket by the city’s Freedom Square.
“There were civilians there, each of whom lived their own life, went about their own business,” he said, noting a girl selling phone Sim cards, others unloading items from a truck, and passers-by.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports from Kherson.
Ukraine retook the city, the only regional capital Russia had since its Feb 24 invasion, in November. Since then, Kyiv says Russian forces have heavily shelled the city from across the vast Dnipro river.
‘Kill with impunity’
Ukrainian presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said the attack came from a Grad multiple rocket launcher.
Another aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, criticised those calling for Kyiv to seek peace talks with Russia, referencing Moscow’s relentless pounding of Ukraine’s power grid since October that has left millions without heat or water.
“I’ll remind those who propose to take into account (Russian) ‘peace’ initiatives: Right now Russia is ‘negotiating,’ killing Kherson residents, wiping out Bakhmut, destroying Kyiv/Odesa grids, torturing civilians in Melitopol,” Podolyak wrote.
“Russia wants to kill with impunity. Shall we allow it?”
Yanushevych had earlier shared a message from the city’s blood bank calling for urgent donations.
Kyiv was still recovering from Monday’s wave of missile strikes, which knocked out half the city’s power supply into the next day, according to Ukraine’s prime minister.