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Russia, Ukraine accuse each other of carrying out missile attack

Moscow says Kyiv struck prison in Donetsk region, killing 40; Ukrainian city governor says five killed in Russian attack

A Ukrainian detainee walking a dog at Olenivka prison –Reuters file photo
A Ukrainian detainee walking a dog at Olenivka prison –Reuters file photo

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Russia said on Friday that Ukraine struck a prison in separatist-held territory with US-made HIMARS rockets, killing 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war and wounding 75. Ukraine said Russia carried out the strike to falsely incriminate Kyiv.

Video released by a Russian media war correspondent, Andrei Rudenko, showed Russian-backed military personnel sifting through the burned out remains of what he said was the prison. The smashed roof of the building was hanging down, reports Reuters.

The charred remains of bodies could be seen. One body was blackened with flames. More bodies lay outside, covered with sheets. Flies swarmed around bloody rags.

"A missile strike from the US-made multiple launch rocket system (HIMARS) was carried out on a pre-trial detention center in the area of the settlement of Olenivka, where Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including fighters from the Azov battalion, are being held," the Russian defence ministry said.

Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin was quoted by Interfax as saying that the prison, located in the frontline town of Olenivka, housed 193 people and that there were no foreigners among the detainees.

Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces denied Ukraine carried out the attack, and accused Russia of shelling the prison in order to falsely incriminate Ukraine of war crimes and to cover up executions.

Governor of Mykolaiv region of Ukraine Vitaliy Kim said at least five people were killed and seven wounded in a Russian missile strike on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Friday.

Vitaliy Kim wrote on the Telegram messaging app that a missile had struck near a public transport stop.

"At the moment, we know of seven wounded and five killed," he wrote.

The events in Mykolaiv were not verified independently. Russia, which started war with Ukraine on February 24, did not immediately comment on the situation and has denied deliberately targeting civilians.

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