At least three killed in Russian missile strike on shopping mall, Ukraine says

  • Ukrainian officials say shopping mall hit by missiles
  • President Zelensky condemns attack
  • Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine, June 27 (Reuters) – Two Russian missiles slammed into a crowded shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least three people and wounding 40, senior Ukrainian officials said.

The attack caused a huge fire and sent dark smoke billowing into the sky, footage circulated by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy showed.

A Reuters reporter saw the charred husk of a shopping complex with a caved-in roof. Firefighters and soldiers were pulling out mangled pieces of metal as they searched for survivors.

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“We don’t understand how many people could be remaining under the rubble,” the regional rescue service chief said on television.

Zelenskiy said more than 1,000 people were in the shopping center at the time of the attack. He gave no details of casualties but said: “It is impossible to even imagine the number of victims.”

Dmytro Lunin, the regional governor said it was unlikely many survivors would be found in the smoldering rubble, because “it was a big fire and there was a lot of smoke.”

He said there was no military target nearby that Russia could have been aiming at and added: “It’s an act of terrorism against civilians.”

At one point, paramedics rushed into the building after rescuers called out “200” meaning they had found one or more bodies in the building.

“It’s useless to hope for decadence and humanity from Russia,” Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

A rescue operation was under way and nine of the wounded were in a serious condition, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office.

“Rescuers from all surrounding areas are heading to the scene to put out the fire and work to liquidate the consequences,” Tymoshenko said.

UKRAINE WANTS MORE WEAPONS

Kremenchuk, an industrial city of 217,000 before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, lies on the Dnipro river in the region of Poltava and is the site of Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery. read more

There was no immediate comment from Russia, which denies deliberately targeting civilians.

“We need more weapons to protect our people, we need missile defenses,” Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office, said.

Vadym Denysenko, an interior ministry advisor, said Russia could have had three motives for the attack.

“The first, undoubtedly, is to sow panic, the second is to… destroy our infrastructure, and the third is to… raise the stakes to get the civilized west to sit down again at the table for talks,” he said.

Russia, which captured Ukraine’s eastern frontline city of Sievierodonetsk over the weekend after a weeks-long assault, has stepped up missile strikes on targets across Ukraine in recent days.

Missiles hit an apartment block and landed close to a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, killing one person and wounding several more people. read more

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Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Max Hunder, Writing by Tom Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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