The death toll from two Russian missile strikes that hit apartment blocks and other buildings in an eastern Ukrainian city climbed to seven, with 81 people injured, authorities said Tuesday, as officials accused the Kremlin's forces of targeting rescue workers.
Two Russian missiles slammed into the downtown area of Pokrovsk, in the eastern Donetsk region that is partially occupied by Russia, on Monday evening, officials said.
The dead were five civilians, one rescuer and one soldier, Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said. The wounded were 39 civilians, including two children; 31 police officers; seven emergency workers; and four soldiers.
The Iskander missiles, which have an advanced guidance system that increases their accuracy, hit within 40 minutes of each other, according to Kyrylenko.
Russia has since the start of the war aimed artillery and missiles at the exact same spot it struck around 30 minutes earlier, often hitting emergency workers who had deployed at the scene. It’s a tactic, called a “double tap” in military jargon, that the Russians also used in Syria’s civil war.
“All of (the police) were there because they were needed, putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike,” Ivan Vyhivskyi, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, said Tuesday. “They knew that under the rubble were the injured — they needed to react, to dig, to retrieve, to save. And the enemy deliberately struck the second time.”
Kyrylenko said that 12 multi-story buildings were damaged as well as a hotel, a pharmacy, two stores and two cafes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of trying to leave nothing but “broken and scorched stones” in eastern Ukraine.
Russian missiles, drones and artillery have repeatedly struck civilian areas in the war. The Kremlin says its forces target only military assets and claim other damage is caused by debris from Ukrainian air defense weapons. Neither side's claims can be independently verified.
Meanwhile, an overnight attack on the town of Kruhliakivka, in the northeastern Kharkiv region, killed two people and injured nine others, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.
Russia also dropped four guided bombs on a village near Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region, killing two civilians, Ukraine’s presidential office said.
Rescuers later came under fire and two of them were injured, it said.
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