Tuesday, March 28, 2023
SLOVIANSK, UKRAINE: Russian missiles punched through buildings in the eastern Ukrainian town of Sloviansk on Monday, killing two people in their cars and wounding more than 30, police said.
A blood-stained cap lay at the side of the street Monday afternoon, next to a parked car whose front seat was covered with blood and shattered glass.
Dmytro Nogin, a senior officer from Kramatorsk district police, told journalists that "at around 10:30 there was a missile attack on the city".
"Two people have already died," he said.
"It was people driving by, chance victims."
Police said 32 were wounded, five very seriously, after two Russian-made S-300 missiles hit the street close to the centre.
Mayor Vadym Lyakh said separately that 36 people received injuries.
Sloviansk is around 25 miles (40 kilometres) as the crow flies from the frontline hotspot of Bakhmut, where a bloody battle has been running for months. It was briefly captured by Moscow-backed separatists in 2014.
A large three-storey administrative building had a huge hole in its facade and windows were blown out.
Nogin told AFP it was a railway office where people were undergoing a medical assessment, but two people at the scene called it a military enlistment centre.
AFP journalists saw a flak jacket being removed from the rubble.
Oleksandr, 34, who was standing outside with his face bandaged, told AFP that he had come for a medical assessment at a "military enlistment centre".
Outside, several cars were completely burnt out and a digger truck lifted a huge chunk of masonry from one.
Those who died were simply driving past, police said.
"A woman from that car died," Nogin pointed to a burnt-out vehicle. "Another died from that green car."
Three women were sweeping up broken glass from outside a small building opposite.
"I came just as it went bang, I work here," hairdresser Yelena, 42, said tearfully.
"We came and saw everything’s destroyed. It’s good we weren’t there. If we’d been working, we probably wouldn’t be alive. It would have blown everyone away," she said, appearing to be in shock.
"Some of my clients even worked at the military recruitment office. Thank God they are alive," she added.
"I came here for work," said Viktor, 57, examining his destroyed car outside the worst-hit building, describing himself as a railway worker.
"There were a lot of people there. Just with me, there were 22 people, plus the staff who work here," he said.
"These people had come on our business. At that time two rockets flew in," he said.
"All the tiles were falling off the walls. I hid in a doorway in a corner," he said.
"Near to me, a person was seriously injured."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of "terrorism".
"The enemy must know: Ukraine will not forgive the torturing of our people, will not forgive these deaths and wounds," he said on social media.
Another town in the eastern region of Donetsk, Druzhkivka, was also targeted with two missiles hitting an orphanage premise, police said, with "no information about victims".
AFP journalists saw a soldier patrolling through the locked gates of the centre, where no children were to be seen. He said his commanders had forbidden press access.
Russian forces have made the capture of the Donetsk region their main military priority and claimed to have annexed the region last year despite not fully control it.