KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Several loud explosions shook the center of the Ukrainian capital on Monday, a week after Russia orchestrated a massive, coordinated airstrike across the country.
Kiev mayor Vitali Klichko said the capital’s central Shevchenko district had been hit and urged residents to take shelter. The early morning explosions set fire to a non-residential building and damaged several apartment buildings, Klichko said in his Telegram channel. Further details were not immediately known. Nothing was known about victims yet.
The explosions came from the same central district in Kiev where a week ago a rocket hit a children’s playground and an intersection near the main buildings of the Kiev National University.
Social media posts showed a fire in the area of the apparent strike, with black smoke rising in the early morning light.
Russian forces attacked Kiev with Iranian Shahed drones, Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, wrote in a post on Telegram’s social media site. Russia has repeatedly used so-called suicide drones in recent weeks to attack urban centers and infrastructure, including power plants.
Strikes in central Kiev have become a rarity in recent months after Russian forces failed to take the capital early in the war. Last week’s early morning strikes were the first explosions heard in Kiev’s city center in several months, and are putting both Kiev and the rest of the country on high alert as the war approaches nine months. Monday’s explosions appeared to continue what many fear could be more frequent in urban centers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week’s strikes were in retaliation for the bombing of a bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland. Putin blames Ukraine for masterminding the explosion, which halted traffic over the bridge and prevented Moscow from using the bridge to supply Russian troops in the occupied regions of southern Ukraine.
The attack on Kiev comes as fighting in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk has intensified in recent days, as has the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south at Kherson and Zaporizhzhya. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address last night that fierce fighting had been going on around the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions make up most of the industrial east known as the Donbas, and were two of the four regions annexed by Russia in September contrary to international law.
On Sunday, the Russian-backed regime in the Donetsk region said Ukraine had fired a direct hit at its central administrative building. No casualties were reported.
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