KYIV (Reuters) -A Russian strike on Ukraine’s recently recaptured city of Kherson killed at least seven people, wounded another 58 and left bloodied corpses on the road, authorities said, in what Kyiv condemned as wanton killing for pleasure.
Fresh from a trip to the United States seeking more weapons to resist the 10-month Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy published photos showing streets strewn with burning cars, smashed windows and bodies.
“Social networks will most likely mark these photos as ‘sensitive content’. But this is not sensitive content – it is the real life of Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he wrote.
“These are not military facilities … It is terror, it is killing for the sake of intimidation and pleasure.”
Yuriy Sobolevskyi, deputy chair of the regional council, said a missile landed next to a supermarket by the city’s Freedom Square.
“There were civilians there, each of whom lived their own life, went about their own business,” he said, noting the presence of a girl selling phone Sim cards, others unloading items from a truck, and passers-by.
There was no word on the incident from Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin says his troops are fighting fascism in Ukraine and resisting a Western threat to Russia’s security.
Russia denies targeting civilians.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports from Kherson.
Ukraine retook the city, the only regional capital to be captured by Russia since its Feb. 24 invasion, in November. Since then, Kyiv says Russian forces have heavily shelled the city from across the vast Dnipro river.
In the course of the war, Ukraine has driven Russian forces from the areas around its capital Kyiv and second biggest city Kharkiv. Moscow is now focused on holding areas its forces occupy in the south and east – around a fifth of Ukraine.
‘KILL WITH IMPUNITY’
While two senior officials gave the toll in Kherson as seven dead, the prosecutor general’s office gave a higher figure of eight. Presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said the attack came from a Grad multiple rocket launcher.
Another aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, hit out at those calling for Kyiv to seek peace talks with Russia, referencing Moscow’s relentless pounding of Ukraine’s power grid since October.
Ukrainian officials say Moscow has already fired over 1,000 rockets at the country’s power grid, and have warned of a bitter winter with huge deficits of power and water pumping capacity, crippling central heating in most Ukrainian homes.
“I’ll remind those who propose to take into account (Russian) ‘peace’ initiatives: right now Russia is ‘negotiating,’ killing Kherson residents, wiping out Bakhmut, destroying Kyiv/Odesa grids, torturing civilians in Melitopol,” Podolyak wrote.
“Russia wants to kill with impunity. Shall we allow it?”
Kherson region governor Yaroslav Yanushevych shared a message from the city’s blood bank calling for urgent donations.
Kyiv was still recovering from Monday’s wave of missile strikes, which knocked out half the city’s power supply well into the next day, according to Ukraine’s prime minister.
On Friday evening, the CEO of a major energy provider said that Kyiv’s west bank, which holds the city centre and most major government buildings, was still seriously affected.