Russia launched a drone attack on Ukraine’s city of Kharkiv, killing seven people, including three small children, triggering blazes and damaging infrastructure and homes, officials said on Saturday.
Oleh Synehubov, Kharkiv regional governor, said Russian forces struck the nation’s second biggest city late on Friday, hitting civilian infrastructure, causing several large fires, and damaging at least 15 houses in the east of Kharkiv.
Blaze casualties included a family with three children aged six months, four years and seven years, who were killed in their home. Three people were also wounded, the governor added, after drones hit a fuel filling station.
The Ukrainian air force said that air defence and mobile groups of drone hunters shot down 23 out of 31 Russian-launched drones, which were targeting the Kharkiv region in the northeast of the country and also the Odesa region in the south.
Russia has kept up attacks all winter with hundreds of drones and missiles targeting regions across Ukraine since late December, as the invasion of its neighbour nears the two-year mark with no clear end in sight.
In Kharkiv, the head of the local prosecutor’s office, Oleksandr Filchakov, said in a video posted on Telegram that three drones hit the petrol station in Nemyshlianskyi district of the city.
“There was a great deal of fuel and that’s why there are these dreadful consequences from the fire,” Filchakov said.
Firefighters and rescuers worked through the night to cope with the consequences of the strike, extinguish fires, and clear through the debris, officials said.
Synehubov also said that Russian drones hit a restaurant in the small town of Velykyi Berluk, some 100km (62 miles) from Kharkiv. He reported no casualties there.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm details of the attack. Russia did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has said it does not deliberately target civilian sites.
Kharkiv has been under attack regularly since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and has been a frequent target of Russian assaults in recent weeks.
Russian forces continue pressing on the battlefield in Ukraine’s east, making small advances in areas such as Avdiivka, where 21 Russian attacks were repelled in the past 24 hours, the General Staff said on Facebook.
In the Black Sea port of Odesa, in the southwest, the regional governor said a drone attack had injured one person.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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