At least 18 dead in Russian missile strike on Ukrainian shopping center

A Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk killed at least 18 people on Monday, Ukrainian authorities said, amid global outrage over the attack .

Video footage shows plumes of black smoke rising from the burning shopping mall in the industrial city of Kremenchuk as dozens of rescuers rush around the perimeter and fire engines park nearby.

“Occupiers fired missiles at a shopping mall with more than a thousand civilians. The mall is on fire, rescuers are fighting the blaze. The number of casualties is impossible to imagine,” the president wrote. Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky on Telegram.

He later called the strike “one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history” on his evening show on Telegram.

Ukrainian state emergency services said early Tuesday that 18 people died, including one person who succumbed to his injuries in hospital. A further 59 people were hospitalized with injuries, 25 of whom were placed in intensive care.

Dmytro Lunin, the governor of the Poltava region where Kremenchuk is located, had previously reported 13 dead, with more than 40 injured.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the strike was deliberately timed to coincide with the mall’s busiest hours and cause maximum casualties.

The Ukrainian Air Force said the mall was hit by Kh-22 anti-ship missiles fired by Tu-22 bombers from the Kursk region in western Russia.

“The missile strike at Kremenchuk hit a busy area that had no connection to the hostilities,” the city’s mayor, Vitali Maletsky, wrote on Facebook.

Lunin denounced the attack as a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity”, saying it was a “cynical act of terror against the civilian population”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Kyiv’s allies to provide more heavy weapons and impose new sanctions on Russia.

“Russia is a disgrace to humanity and must suffer the consequences,” he wrote on Twitter.

Presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak has accused Russia of being a “terrorist state”.

US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said the world would “hold the Kremlin accountable for its atrocities in Ukraine”.

Russia has yet to comment on the strike. In the past, Moscow has denied targeting civilians and accused Kyiv and its Western allies of staging such attacks.

The strike in Kremenchuk comes as leaders of the G7 group of industrialized nations discuss new punitive measures against Moscow following its four-month-long invasion of Ukraine.

It also follows a wave of Russian strikes reported on a number of Ukrainian cities over the weekend, including Kyiv and Kharkiv.

“On the night of June 25, Russian troops launched a massive missile strike on Ukrainian territory. In total, more than 50 missiles of different types were fired: air, sea and land,” the Ukrainian military said. said in a statement on Sunday.

Analysts have warned that Russia may retaliate for the West supplying Ukraine with heavier weapons, such as the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) which arrived in Ukraine last week. last.

Military officials in Kyiv say the system has already been used by Ukrainian forces.

“The gunners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine skilfully hit some targets – military targets of the enemy on our Ukrainian territory,” Ukrainian Chief of Staff Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said, specifically addressing the HIMARS system on Telegram.

Not verified videos released over the weekend showed the apparent aftermath of HIMARS strikes against Russian positions near the eastern Ukrainian town of Izyum.

AFP contributed reporting.

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