‘Deliberate’ Russian Strikes Hit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia

Russian strikes battered the central Ukraine city of Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, authorities said, in fatal attacks that tore through high-rise buildings and left a toddler injured.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed the strikes, saying that “Russians keep deliberately striking civilians to sow fear.”

“Russian terror must be stopped – by force of weapons, sanctions, and full isolation,” he said on social media.

The Ukrainian-controlled city is located in the eponymous Zaporizhzhia region, also home to the Russian-occupied nuclear plant that has been the site of heavy shelling.

Moscow claimed to have annexed the region last week even though its forces do not control all of it.

The region’s Ukraine-appointed governor initially said two people had died after seven bombardments but the local emergency service reported that at least three people had been killed.

“The employees of the emergency service removed three bodies from beneath the destroyed structures of the building,” it said on social media, adding that the rescue operation continues.

AFP journalists on the scene saw rescue workers in hard helmets clearing rubble with their hands, searching for people trapped beneath the debris.

Firefighters were working to extinguish a blaze from a collapsed section of a building with pieces of jagged metal protruding.

“Seven people were injured with varying degrees of severity. They are being treated, including one three-year-old child,” governor Oleksandr Starukh said on social media.

Shortly after, he said there was a second bout of incoming fire but gave no details.

Last week, Ukraine said at least 30 people were killed after a convoy of civilian cars in the Zaporizhzhia region was shelled in an attack Kyiv blamed on Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday finalized the annexation of four Ukrainian territories — Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — but the Kremlin is yet to confirm what areas of those regions are being annexed.

Ukraine’s presidency said Thursday that over the past day, 14 people were killed in attacks in the Donetsk region.

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