At least 28 people have been killed in shelling at a bakery in the Russian-occupied city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, Moscow-installed officials have said.
The deaths come on the same day Ukrainian military officials claimed Russian forces shelled the Sumy region in the northeast of the country in 16 separate attacks on Saturday – firing on the border communities of Yunakivka, Bilopillia, Krasnopillia, Velyka Pysarivka, and Esman.
At least one child is among those who died after the “armed forces of Ukraine opened fire on a bakery” in Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, local leader Leonid Pasechnik wrote in a statement on Telegram.
Mr Pasechik said a further 10 people were rescued from under the rubble by emergency services.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said “dozens of civilians” were in the building at the time.
A Russian-installed official in operational services said the average age of the victims was “35 years, plus or minus five years”, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.
“The search and rescue operation continues,” Russia’s emergencies ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
Although Mr Pasechik blamed Ukraine for the shelling, officials in Kyiv have not commented on the deaths.
The Russian-controlled Luhansk Information Centre said on the Telegram app that the shelling involved the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Russia took control of Lysychansk in July 2022 after months of heavy fighting.
Only about a tenth of Lysychansk’s pre-war population of 110,000 remain in the city, according to Ukrainian officials.
Both Moscow and Kyiv have increasingly relied on longer-range attacks this winter as their forces hold largely unchanged positions on the 930-mile front line.
Though Ukraine took back a chunk of territory from Russian forces in 2022, its 2023 counter-offensive failed to make any significant dent in fortified Russian lines, and there is a debate among Kyiv’s Western backers on how Ukraine should fight on.
In the past month, Russian forces have grabbed 56 square miles (140 square kilometres) of Ukrainian territory, according to the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Wives of Russian reservists call for them to return home
Nearly two years since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, more than two dozen people, mostly journalists, were detained on Saturday at a protest in central Moscow, as wives and other relatives of Russian servicemen mobilised to fight in Ukraine called for their return, according to independent Russian news reports.
The relatives gathered to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin walls.
They marked 500 days since Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2022 ordered a “partial mobilisation” of up to 300,000 reservists following battlefield setbacks in Moscow’s full-scale war against Ukraine.
The call-up was widely unpopular and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee abroad to avoid being drafted.
Wives and relatives of some of the reservists called up in 2022 have campaigned for them to be discharged and replaced with contract soldiers.
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