KYIV: Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Sunday killed at least 11 people, said authorities in the border area facing a new offensive by Moscow’s forces.

Russian troops since May 10 have carried out a ground assault in the northeastern region, where they have achieved their largest territorial gains in a year-and-a-half.

Their progress had been stopped, Kyiv said — a claim contradicted by Moscow. Six people — including a pregnant woman — were killed on the outskirts of Kharkiv city by a missile attack launched from Russia’s territory of Belgorod, Ukrainian authorities said.

Twenty-seven were wounded in the strike on a recreation centre, with one employee missing, the prosecutors office said. “Among the wounded is a police officer and an ambulance paramedic who came to help people after the first hit,” the Kharkiv prosecutors office said.

It accused Russian forces of “once again using the tactic of ‘repeated strike’... aimed at killing civilians, law enforcement officers, medics, and rescuers.” Russia has often been accused of using “double-tap” attacks, in which a second strike follows shortly after the first, increasing the chances of casualties among those responding to the initial incident. Moscow insists it only targets military infrastructure.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted to the strike, saying Russia used its weapons to “terrorise our cities and communities, to kill ordinary people”. Zelensky asked for “two Patriots for Kharkiv (which) will fundamentally change the situation”, referring to the sophisticated US-made air defence system. Shortly after, authorities reported another attack in the Kharkiv region.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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