Ukraine war: Crowded DIY store in Kharkiv hit by Russian airstrikes, killing at least six people

25 May 2024, 15:47 | Updated: 26 May 2024, 10:30

At least six people have been killed after a crowded DIY store in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was hit by Russian strikes, regional officials say.

Two guided bombs hit the hypermarket, wounding dozens more and triggering a huge blaze that fire crews battled to contain, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

At least two of the dead were store employees, while 40 people were injured in the attack and 16 were still unaccounted for, he added.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 120 people were inside when the bombs struck.

"The attack targeted the shopping centre, where there were many people - this is clearly terrorism," he said.

Andriy Kudinov, director of the suburban shopping centre, told local media the hardware store was full of shoppers buying items for their summer cottages.

Video footage showed huge clouds of dark smoke rising into the sky from the site with firefighters' vehicles and rescuers heading to the scene, while witnesses described panicked scenes at the shopping centre.

"I was at my workplace," said Dmytro Syrotenko, who had a large gash to his face.

"I heard the first hit and... with my colleague, we fell to the ground. There was the second hit and we were covered with debris. Then we started to crawl to the higher ground."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the strikes as a "brutal attack" and issued a fresh plea for more air defence to be able to protect the city of about 1.3 million people.

"This is a task that must be accomplished and can only be accomplished together with the world," he said.

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In another strike, a missile hit a residential building in the centre of Kharkiv, injuring 18 people, Mr Syniehubov said.

The missile left a crater several metres deep in the pavement at the foot of the building, which also housed a post
office, a beauty salon and a cafe.

Kharkiv, which is Ukraine's second-largest city around 18 miles (30 km) from the Russian border, has been the target of many weeks of Russian attacks.

Mr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Friday that Ukrainian forces have secured "combat control" of areas where Russian troops entered the north-eastern Kharkiv region earlier this month.

But his comments appeared to be at odds with those made by Russian officials.

Viktor Vodolatsky, a member of Russia's lower house of parliament, said Russian forces now controlled more than half of the town of Vovchansk, three miles inside the border, Russian state news agency Tass reported.