Ukraine: Rockets strike mayor’s office in occupied Donetsk

Ukraine: Rockets strike mayor’s office in occupied Donetsk

KYIV, Ukraine — Pro-Kremlin officials on Sunday blamed Ukraine for a rocket attack that struck the mayor’s office in Donetsk, a city controlled by the separatists, while Ukrainian officials said Russian rocket strikes hit a town across from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, among other targets.

The attacks came as Russia’s war in Ukraine nears the eight-month mark. Kyiv also reported holding the line in continued fierce fighting around Bakhmut, where Russian forces have claimed some gains amid a seven-week Ukrainian counteroffensive that has led Russian troops to retreat from some areas around it.

The municipal mayor’s building in Donetsk was seriously damaged by the rocket attack. Plumes of smoke swirled around the building, which had rows of blown-out windows and a partially collapsed ceiling. Cars nearby were burned out. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Kyiv didn’t immediately claim responsibility or comment on the attack.

Kremlin-backed separatist authorities have accused Ukraine of numerous strikes on infrastructure and residential targets in the occupied regions. They have said Kyiv often uses U.S.-supplied long-range HIMARS rockets, but have not provided corroborating information.

Last week, the Kremlin launched what is believed to be its largest coordinated air and missile raids yet on Ukraine’s infrastructure. The wide-ranging retaliatory attacks included the use of self-destructing explosive drones from Iran, and killed dozens of people.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Sunday that Moscow was shelling towns and villages along the front line in the east, and that “active hostilities” continued in the southern Kherson region.

Kyiv reported at least six people wounded in the latest attack on Nikopol, across from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest. The strikes damaged power lines, gas pipelines, and a raft of civilian businesses and residential buildings, they said.

Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of firing at and around the plant, which is run by its pre-occupation Ukrainian staff under Russian oversight.

The region of Zaporizhzhia is one of four that Moscow illegally annexed last month, despite the fact that some 20% of Zaporizhzhia remains under Ukrainian military control.

In western Russia, along the border with Ukraine, Russian officials said their air defenses shot down “a minimum” of 16 Ukrainian missiles in the Belgorod region, Russia’s Ria Novosti reported. The regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said four people were wounded.

Russian authorities in border regions have repeatedly accused Kyiv of firing at their territory, and claimed that civilians were being wounded. Ukraine hasn’t claimed responsibility for the alleged atacks or commented.

Russia has long used Belgorod as a staging ground for shelling and missile attacks on Ukrainian territory.

Meanwhile, Russia opened an investigation into a shooting in the Belgorod region Saturday in which two men from a former Soviet republic who were training at a Russian military firing range killed 11 and wounded 15 during target practice, before being slain themselves. The Russian Defense Ministry called the incident a terrorist attack.

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