A presumed airstrike that hit a train station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, has reportedly killed at least 30 people.
Ukraine accused Russia of delivering the strike while Russia-aligned local forces blamed Ukrainian troops for the deaths.
Images from the scene show emergency services dealing with a fire near the contested city’s central station, with what appeared to be bodies of people scattered around.
A photo of what appears to be part of a missile lying on the ground was circulated on social media. The projectile had a note “for the children” painted on it.
Ukraine’s state rail operator said at least 30 people were killed and over 100 injured in the incident.
The head of the Kiev-appointed Donetsk Region administration, Pavel Kirilenko, claimed the deaths were caused by a Russian Iskander missile.
He said the projectile had a clustered munition warhead.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Alexey Arestovich likewise claimed the weapon to be an Iskander missile.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, on his turn, said that the missile was a Tochka U, but claimed it was fired by “Russian monsters”.
- He alleged Ukraine’s opponents deliberately targeted civilians in Kramatorsk and said that thousands of people were at the station waiting for evacuation.
The Donetsk militia, which consider Kramatorsk as part of the Donetsk People’s Republic, claimed the missile was a Tochka U of the Ukrainian forces.
The militia said Ukraine has a long record of deploying the weapon system that neither Russia nor the DPR forces use.
Kramatorsk remained under Kiev’s control in 2014, when the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine flared after an armed coup in Ukraine.
Last week, DPR head Denis Pushilin called on residents of Kramatorks to flee the city. He said Ukrainian nationalist forces could block all evacuation attempts at any moment.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk.
- The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
Russia denies striking train station in Ukraine
Kiev’s claims that a Russian missile killed scores of civilians in Kramatorsk are not true, the Russian defense ministry said.
- The Russian ministry stated it had no operations planned for the Kramatorsk area for Friday and called the accusations “a provocation that has absolutely no relation to reality.”
The Russian military added that images shared by witnesses show debris from a Tochka U missile, a weapon system that “only the Ukrainian forces use,” according to the statement.
A missile of a similar type hit the city of Donetsk on March 14, the ministry pointed out.
The attack, which Moscow attributed to a Ukrainian missile unit, killed 17 people and injured 36 others, it said.