| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Twin sisters among 11 killed in Russian attack on Ukraine’s Kramatorsk

At least 11 people were killed in a Russian missile attack on a busy restaurant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Wednesday, according to officials. Among them were two 14-year-old twin sisters.

Nearly 24 hours after a rocket blasted into the restaurant, leaving it into a pile of twisted beams, emergency services reported that the bodies of 11 individuals had been found from the ruins.

The dead included at least three children, and 56 people were hurt, they said.

Sisters Anna and Yulia Aksenchenko would have turned 15 in September, Kramatorsk city council’s education department said in a Facebook post under a picture of the two girls smiling for the camera.

Asked about the attack on Kramatorsk, the Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia attacked only military targets, not civilian ones. Russia’s Defence Ministry later said a temporary Ukrainian army command post had been hit in Kramatorsk.

“I ran here after the explosion because I rented a cafe here…. Everything has been blown out there,” said Valentyna, a 64-year-old woman who declined to give her surname.

“None of the glass, windows or doors are left. All I see is destruction, fear and horror. This is the 21st century,” she told Reuters.

During the overnight rescue, police and soldiers emerged with a man in military trousers and boots on a stretcher. He was placed in an ambulance, though it was unclear whether he was still alive. Two men screamed in frenzied tones for a tow rope, then ran back towards the rubble.

A second missile hit a village on the fringes of Kramatorsk, wounding four people.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video message on Tuesday that the attacks showed Russia “deserved only one thing as a consequence of what it has done — defeat and a tribunal”.

Russia has frequently hit Ukrainian cities since its full-scale invasion in February 2022. It denies intentionally targeting civilians.

“We are appalled by this but unfortunately not surprised by Russia’s conduct,” Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said when asked about the strike. “While others are focused on pursuing a way to end this war, Russia is again undertaking strikes.”

Kramatorsk lies west of front lines in Donetsk province and would be a likely objective in any westward advance by Russia.

The city has been a frequent target of Russian attacks. A missile strike killed 63 people at a railway station there in April 2022, one of the worst single air strikes of the war.

  • Reuters