WAR IN UKRAINE | At least eight dead as Kyiv shopping centre wrecked by shelling

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv
A man walks with a dog at the site of a shelling of a shopping center in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 21, 2022.
REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko

Shelling hit a Kyiv shopping centre late on Sunday, killing at least eight people, wrecking nearby buildings and leaving smoking piles of rubble and the twisted wreckage of burned-out cars spread over several hundred metres.

Firefighters were putting out small blazes around the smouldering carcass of a building in the shopping centre car park and looking for possible survivors on Monday.

“According to the information we have at the moment, several homes and one of the shopping centres (were hit in Podil),” Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his Telegram channel.

Six bodies were lain out on the pavement as emergency services combed through the wreckage to the sound of distant artillery fire. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said at least eight people had been killed in the blast.

Russian forces have pounded some suburbs of the Ukrainian capital, but defenders have so far managed to prevent Kyiv from coming under the kind of full-scale assault that has devastated eastern cities such as Mariupol and Kharkiv.

“Russia fired at our shopping centre. The mall and the residential buildings around it have suffered terrible damage,” Mykola Medinskiy, an army chaplain, told Reuters, adding there were no strategic military objects in the area.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify that comment. Russia denies targeting civilians in what it terms a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine.

“It is hard for me to speak because my child worked here. She was at work just yesterday. And then this thing happened last night,” said tearful onlooker Valentina Timofeevna.

After a relatively quiet weekend in Kyiv, the sound of heavy bombardment could be heard to the north of the city, where much of the most intense fighting has taken place.

The bulk of Russian forces remain more than 25 km (15 miles) from the centre of Kyiv, British military intelligence said on Monday.

Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 10 million, including nearly 3.5 million who have fled abroad, mostly to neighbouring European countries such as Poland.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s operation aims to disarm Ukraine and halt the “genocide” of Russian-speaking people by Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say this is a false pretext for an unprovoked war to subdue a country.