A Russian missile has struck a busy shopping mall in central Ukraine, officials in Kyiv said Monday, with at least two deaths and 20 injuries among the more than 1,000 civilians said to have been inside.
Video footage shows plumes of black smoke rising from the burning shopping center in the industrial city of Kremenchuk as dozens of rescuers rush around the perimeter.
“The occupiers fired missiles at a shopping center where there were over a thousand civilians. The mall is on fire, rescuers are fighting the fire. The number of victims is impossible to imagine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
The Ukrainian president’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Telegram that there were around 20 wounded so far, with nine in “serious condition.”
“Two people died. The rescue operation continues,” Tymoshenko added.
The strike in Kremenchuk comes as leaders of the G7 group of industrialized nations discuss new punitive measures against Moscow over its four-month invasion of Ukraine.
It also follows a wave of reported Russian strikes 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 the territory of Ukraine. In total, more than 50 missiles of various types were fired: air, sea and land-based,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement Sunday.
The spate of strikes follows the West’s supply of more heavyweight weapons to Ukraine, such as the U.S-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) that arrived in Ukraine last week.
Military officials in Kyiv say the system has already been put to use by Ukrainian forces.
“Artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine skillfully hit certain targets — military targets of the enemy on our Ukrainian territory,” Chief of Ukraine’s General Staff Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said, specifically addressing the HIMARS system on Telegram.
Unverified videos published over the weekend showed the apparent aftermath of HIMARS strikes against Russian positions near the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum.
AFP contributed reporting.