Missile strikes kill at least 23 civilians in south Ukraine

AFP

Missiles slammed into a car market in southern Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 23 people in a convoy of civilian vehicles in an attack local officials blamed on Russia.

The convoy had been assembling at the car market on the edge of the city of Zaporizhzhia, preparing to leave Ukrainian territory to visit relatives and deliver supplies in an area controlled by Russia, witnesses and Ukrainian officials said.

Car windows were blown out by the impact of the missile strike, and their sides were sprayed by shrapnel, a Reuters witness said.

"The occupiers struck defenceless Ukrainians. This is another terrorist attack by a terrorist country," Oleksandr Starukh, the Zaporizhzhia regional governor, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Police Colonel Sergey Ujryumov, head of the explosive disposal unit of the Zaporizhzhia police department said the market was hit by three S300 missiles.

"The people who were hit were mostly in their cars or next to them. There were other strikes, more than 10. You will be informed about them later," he told reporters on the scene.

Ujryumov told Reuters that the Russian military "know that columns are formed here to go to the occupied territories. They had the coordinates.

"It’s not a coincidental strike. It’s perfectly deliberate." 

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has denied deliberately attacking civilians.

Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian-installed administration in the Zaporizhzhia region, blamed the attack on Ukrainian forces.

"23 people killed ... in Ukrainian strike on convoy of cars at exit to liberated part of Zaporizhzhia region," he wrote on Telegram.

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