Ukraine is looking for 36 missing after Russian attack killed 18 at the mall

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Firefighters and soldiers on Tuesday searched for survivors in the rubble of a Ukrainian shopping center, where authorities said 36 people were still missing after a Russian missile attack that killed at least 18 people.

Relatives of the missing were gathered in a hotel across the street from the rubble of the shopping center, where rescue teams had set up a base.

Exhausted-looking firefighters sat down on a sidewalk after a night of fighting the fire and looking for survivors. Oleksandr, wetting his face with a bottle of water, said his team worked all night digging through the rubble.

“We took five bodies out. We didn’t find anyone alive,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in the attack on the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, far from the front line. He called it “one of the most challenging terrorist attacks in European history”.

Russia said the incident was caused by an attack on a legitimate military target. The country’s defense ministry said it fired missiles at a warehouse used to store weapons sent from the West and that the explosion of ammunition there caused the fire in the nearby shopping center.

Moscow said the mall was unused and empty at the time of the attack, a claim refuted by injured survivors such as Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, who was shopping there with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.

“I flew headlong and shrapnel hit my body. The whole place was falling apart,” he said at a nearby public hospital where he was being treated.

“It was hell,” said her husband, Mykola, 45, with blood dripping from a bandage around his head.

The leaders of the main democracies of the Group of Seven (G7), at a summit in Germany, called the attack “abominable”.

“Russian President (Vladimir) Putin and the culprits will be held accountable,” they said in a joint statement.

Ukraine’s Attorney General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters that another missile also hit a nearby factory, which was closed and not a military target.

“It’s a question about crimes against humanity,” he said. “I think it’s like a systematic bombing of civilian infrastructure – for what purpose? To scare people, kill people to terrorize our towns and villages.”

Russia denies intentionally targeting civilians in its “special military operation,” which destroyed cities, killed thousands and evicted millions of people from their homes.

The attack on Kremenchuk comes after days of escalating Russian missile attacks away from the front lines, including the first attacks on the capital Kiev in weeks.

Moscow also stepped up bombing raids on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, where Russian troops were pushed back in a counter-offensive in May. The governor of Kharkiv said on Monday five people were killed and 22 injured in an attack that hit targets including apartment buildings and a school.

Source: Terra

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