KYIV, Ukraine –
At least 15 people were killed when a Russian rocket hit an apartment building in the eastern Ukraine town of Chasiv Yar and more than 20 people may still be trapped in the rubble, officials said Sunday.
The Saturday night rocket assault is the latest in a recent burst of high-casualty attacks on civilian structures. At least 19 people died when a Russian missile hit a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk in late June and 21 people were killed when an apartment building and recreation area came under rocket fire in the southern Odessa region this month.
Russia has repeatedly claimed that it is hitting only targets of military value in the war. There was no comment on Chasiv Yar at a Russian Defence Ministry briefing on Sunday.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region that includes Chasiv Yar, said the town of of about 12,000 was hit by Uragan rockets, which are fired from truck-borne systems.
The Ukrainian emergency services later said the death toll had risen to 15 and that an estimated two dozen people were under the wreckage. Rescuers made voice contact with at least three people trapped in the rubble, it said.
Chasiv Yar is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) southeast of Kramatorsk, a city that is expected to be a major target of Russian forces as they grind westward.
The Donetsk region is one of two provinces along with Luhansk that make up the Donbas region, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014. Last week, Russia captured the city of Lysychansk, the last major stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk.
Russian forces are raising “true hell” in the Donbas, despite assessments they were taking an operational pause, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said Saturday.
After the seizure of Lysychansk, some analysts predicted Moscow’s troops likely would take some time to rearm and regroup.
But “so far there has been no operational pause announced by the enemy. He is still attacking and shelling our lands with the same intensity as before,” Haidai said. He later said the Russian bombardment of Luhansk was suspended because Ukrainian forces had destroyed ammunition depots and barracks used by the Russians.