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Russian drone strike on Kharkiv, Ukraine's 2nd largest city, kills 7

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian drone strike on Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, killed seven people overnight, including three children, Kharkiv region governor Oleh Syniehubov reported Saturday. Three others sustained injuries, according to the officials.

He said at least 10 drones were launched at Kharkiv, eight of which were shot down. Civilian infrastructure in the Nemyshlyan district of the city was hit, causing a massive fire that burned down 15 private houses, he said.

Syniehubov said that an oil depot was hit, causing the fuel to leak out, which prompted the fire. In a Facebook post, Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the National Police, cited a local resident as seeing “a true hell: first the fuel flowed, then everything caught fire.”

Bolvinov said a family of five — including children aged 7, 4 and nine months — burned alive, trapped in their house as the fire raged. Two other adults were killed by the blaze in another house that burned down, he said.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said more than 50 people had been evacuated and that emergency workers had contained the blaze by Saturday morning.

In an online statement, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his condolences to the relatives of all the victims and said that “terror can’t remain unpunished. Terror can’t remain without a fair response. Terrorists must lose this war they had started. Russia must be held accountable for every life it ruined and destroyed.”

The Ukrainian air force said air defense systems destroyed 23 out of 31 Iranian Shahed drones launched by Russia overnight. The drones primarily targeted the northeastern Kharkiv region and the southern province of Odesa, the statement said.

Odesa regional governor Oleh Kiper said four people were injured there by the overnight drone attacks.

The attacks came in three waves, he said. The first targeted the regional capital — the port city of Odesa. All nine drones were shot down, but the debris damaged port infrastructure and injured one person.

The second and the third waves targeted port infrastructure in the Danube river area, Kiper said. A total of 12 drones were shot down and three people were injured.

Romania’s Ministry of National Defense said on Saturday that Russia carried out overnight drone attacks on Ukraine’s river ports of Ismail and Reni, near the border with Romania.

The ministry said that an F-16 jet of the Turkish Air Force was deployed from a Romanian airbase around 1:15 a.m. to carry out “reconnaissance missions” in national airspace to monitor the situation. Text alerts were also issued to residents in two counties adjacent to the attacks.

NATO member Romania has discovered drone debris on its territory several times before, following sustained attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure as Moscow attempted to disrupt Kyiv’s ability to export grain and other produce to world markets.

The Russian Defense Ministry, in the meantime, accused Ukraine of targeting Russia's civilian transport vessels in the Black Sea with sea drones on Friday evening. One such drone was destroyed, the ministry said, and others were jammed, with no damage to the ships.

The ministry didn't say how many sea drones were used or how many ships were targeted. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv's officials on the alleged attack.

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Associated Press writers Stephen McGrath in Sighisoara, Romania, and Dasha Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed.