| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Separatists say shelling killed Ukrainian prisoners of war

Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine claim that at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war taken during the battle for Mariupol were slain by Ukrainian artillery.

A prison in the town of Olenivka was struck by Ukrainian fire on Friday, according to Daniil Bezsonov, a spokesman for the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, killing at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war and injuring 130 others.

There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian authorities to the report.

The Ukrainian troops were taken prisoner after the fierce fighting for Ukraine’s Azov Sea port of Mariupol, where they holed up at the giant Azovstal steel mill for months.

The Azov Regiment and other Ukrainian units defended the steel mill for nearly three months, clinging to its underground maze of tunnels. They surrendered in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.

Scores of Ukrainian soldiers were then taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas such as the Donetsk region, a breakaway area in eastern Ukraine which is run by Russia-backed separatist authorities.

In other developments:

Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

City mayor Ihor Terekhov said a central part of the northeastern city was hit, including a two-story building and a higher education institution. Terekhov said the strike occurred just after 4 a.m. on Friday.

“The State Emergency Service is already working — they are sorting out the rubble, looking for people under them,” Terekhov said in a Telegram update.


  • Associated Press