Russian forces killed eight civilians in attacks on the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson on Wednesday, striking a hypermarket and railway station in the regional capital and hitting villages nearby, officials said.
Three were killed in an apparent artillery strike as people did their morning shopping in the hypermarket in the city of Kherson, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said.
Local officials said one person was also killed when the city railway station was bombarded, three energy workers were killed while carrying out repairs in a nearby village and a man was killed in a residential building in another settlement.
Pools of blood and debris lay on the ground outside the hypermarket, whose entrance had been heavily damaged and cordoned off, Reuters reporters on the scene said.
The interior ministry said the victims were all either customers or workers at the hypermarket.
“When the enemy can achieve nothing on the battlefield, its strikes at peaceful cities,” Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi said.
Windows were smashed at the railway station, where there appeared to have been three explosions. Two people could be seen being carried out alive on stretchers. Three women at the station said they had been eating and took cover under a table.
“We cannot negotiate with Russian murderers. They must be brought to justice. Or destroyed”, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said in a statement.
Russia did not immediately comment on the incident. It has stepped up air strikes in the past few days as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive which Kyiv hopes will change the dynamic of Russia’s more than 14-month-old war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops recaptured Kherson last November after nearly eight months of occupation by Russian. The area is now under almost constant bombardment from Russian forces entrenched on the opposite side of the Dnipro River.
Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians but many people have been killed in attacks on residential areas across Ukraine since the invasion in February last year.
The regional governor had earlier announced a curfew on Kherson city to last from Friday evening until Monday morning for “law enforcement” reasons. He gave no other explanation.