Russia missile attack on Ukraine injures 34, damages homes

Fire and smoke raise after artillery shelling near Bakhmut, an eastern city where fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, April 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Libkos)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia launched its second large salvo of missiles at Ukraine in recent days early Monday, damaging buildings and wounding at least 34 people in the eastern city of Pavlohrad but failing to hit Kyiv, officials said.

Air raid sirens began blaring across the capital at about 3:45 a.m., followed by the sounds of explosions as missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian defense systems.

Eighteen cruise missiles were fired in total from the Murmansk region and the Caspian region, and 15 of them were intercepted, said Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

The head of Kyiv's city administration, Serhii Popko, said all missiles fired at the city were shot down, as well as some drones. He didn't provide further details, but said more information would be available later.

The attack follows Friday's launch of more than 20 cruise missiles and two explosive drones at Ukraine, which was the first to target Kyiv in nearly two months.

In that attack, Russian missiles hit an apartment building in Uman, a city about 215 kilometers (135 miles) south of Kyiv, killing 21 people including three children.

In Monday's attack, missiles hit Pavlohrad, in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, wounding 34 people, including five children, according to Serhii Lysak, the region's top official.

Seven missiles shot at the city and “some were intercepted” but others hit an industrial facility, sparking a fire, and a residential neighborhood where 19 apartment buildings, 25 homes, six schools and five shops were damaged, he said.

Missiles also hit three other areas in the region, damaging residential buildings and a school, he said.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Russia conducted “a group missile strike with long-range precision-guided airborne and seaborne weapons on facilities of Ukraine’s defense industry ... all designated facilities were struck.”

The attacks also damaged Ukraine's power network infrastructure, which will take several days to repair, according to Energy Minister Herman Haluschenko.

He said that nearly 20,000 people in the city of Kherson and wider region had been left without power, along with an unspecified number of people in the Dnipropetrovsk region, including the city of Dnipro.

Moscow has frequently launched long-range missile attacks during the 14-month war, often indiscriminately hitting civilian areas.

Ukraine has recently taken delivery of American-made Patriot missiles, providing improved anti-missile defenses, but it was not clear whether any of them were employed in trying to stop Monday morning's attack.

Ukraine has also been building up its mechanized brigades with armor supplied by its Western allies, who have also been training Ukrainian troops and sending ammunition, as Kyiv prepares for an expected counteroffensive this spring.

On Saturday, two Ukrainian drones hit a Russian oil depot in Crimea in the latest attack on the annexed peninsula.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview last week that his country would seek to reclaim the peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, in the upcoming counteroffensive.

In what has become a grinding war of attrition, the fiercest battles have been in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia is struggling to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the face of dogged Ukrainian defense.

Troops from Russia's Wagner mercenary group and other forces are fighting Ukrainian troops house-to-house to try and gain control of what has become known as the “road of life” — the last remaining road west still in Ukrainian hands, which makes it critical for supplies and fresh troops.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the head of Ukrainian ground forces, said that Russia continued to exert “maximum effort” to take the city but that it so far had failed.

“In some parts of the city, the enemy was counterattacked by our units and left some positions," he said.

In Russia's Bryansk region, which borders northern Ukraine, a freight train was derailed by an explosive device, regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said.

There were no immediate indications of who set off the explosive, but Bryansk has suffered sporadic cross-border shelling during the war and in March two people were reported killed in what Bryansk officials said was an incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs.

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Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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