At least six people were killed when Russian missiles hit civilian buildings in an overnight attack Tuesday in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, regional officials said, as rescuers scrambled to retrieve people believed trapped under the rubble.
The strike involving cruise missiles hit a five-story residential building, which was engulfed in fire, Gov. Serhiy Lysak of the Dnipropetrovsk region wrote on Telegram.
After initial reports of three dead, Kryvyi Rih mayor Oleksandr Vilkul wrote on the social media app that the death toll had risen to a least six, and seven people were feared trapped under the rubble.
Authorities initially said at least two dozen people were injured.
The devastation in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown is the latest bloodshed in Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its 16th month, as Ukrainian forces are mounting counteroffensive operations using Western-supplied firepower to try to drive out the Russians.
Images from the scene relayed by Zelensky on his Telegram channel showed firefighters battling the blaze as pockets of fire poked through multiple broken windows of a building.
Charred and damaged vehicles littered the nearby ground.
“More terrorist missiles,” he wrote. “Russian killers continue their war against residential buildings, ordinary cities and people.”
The aerial assault was the latest barrage of strikes by Russian forces that targeted various parts of Ukraine overnight.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was attacked with Iranian-made Shahed drones, and the surrounding region was shelled, local Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram.
The shelling wounded two civilians in the town of Shevchenkove, southeast of Kharkiv.
The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, separately reported early Tuesday that the drone strike damaged a utilities business and a warehouse in the city’s northeast.
Neither Terekhov nor Syniehubov referenced any casualties within Kharkiv.
The Kyiv military administration reported that the capital came under fire as well on Tuesday, but the incoming missiles were destroyed by air defenses and there were no immediate reports of any casualties there.
Ukrainian forces are “moving forward” outside Bakhmut, the commander of the country’s ground troops said on Tuesday morning.
In a Telegram post, Oleksandr Syrskyi said that Russian forces are “losing positions on the flanks” near the embattled eastern city, while characterizing Ukrainian operations in the area as “defensive.”
For weeks, Ukrainian officials have been reporting small gains west of Bakhmut, which Moscow took last month following the war’s longest and bloodiest battle.
A day earlier, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the country’s troops recaptured a total of seven villages spanning 35 square miles of eastern Ukraine over the past week — small successes in the early phases of a counteroffensive.
Russian officials did not confirm those Ukrainian gains, which were impossible to verify and could be reversed in the to-and-fro of war.
The advance amounted to only small bits of territory and underscored the difficulty of the battle ahead for Ukrainian forces, who will have to fight meter by meter to regain the roughly one-fifth of their country under Russian occupation.