18 Apr 2024, 11:19
Update : 18 Apr 2024, 11:51

Russian missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 18

CHERNIGIV, Ukraine, April 18, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Rescuers were removing
mountains of rubble on Thursday from the site of a lethal Russian missile
strike on Ukraine's historic city of Chernigiv, where at least 18 people were
killed in an attack that has prompted fresh pleas for allies to boost Kyiv's
overstretched air defence systems.

Three Russian missiles crashed into the northern Ukrainian city on Wednesday,
leaving pools of blood on the street at the scene of one strike, where rescue
workers searched for survivors and carried away the wounded on stretchers.

The official death toll rose to 18 as of Thursday morning, with 77 people --
including four children -- injured, according to Ukraine's emergency services

As President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for more help from Western allies,
the US House of Representatives finally announced a vote on a massive
military aid package that includes about $61 billion in long-delayed support
for Kyiv, a move welcomed by President Joe Biden.

Chernigiv resident Olga Samoilenko told AFP she and her children found
shelter in the corridor of their apartment building after the first missile

"Our neighbours were already there. We started shouting for everyone to fall
to the floor. They did. There were two more explosions. Then we ran to the
parking lot," the 33-year-old said.

- Zelensky questions West's resolve -

Mayor Oleksandr Lomako said more than a dozen buildings had been damaged in
the attack, while other officials said dozens of vehicles and medical and
educational facilities were also damaged.

A 25-year-old policewoman on sick leave was among those killed after
suffering a severe shrapnel injury, the interior minister announced.

AFP journalists at the scene saw a body being pulled from the rubble and an
eight-storey hotel building gutted by the strike where municipal workers were
using a crane to clear debris.

Nearby apartments, a beauty salon and beer shop were among structures whose
windows were blown out by the attack.

The Chernigiv region, which borders Belarus to the north, was partially
occupied at the beginning of the Russian invasion but has been spared
fighting for around two years since Russian forces retreated.

Zelensky blamed Russia for the attack but also said the West should do more
to help defend Ukraine's skies.

"This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defence
equipment and if the world's determination to resist Russian terror had been
sufficient," he said.

- 'Same level of defence' -

Addressing the European Council by video link later Wednesday, Zelensky said
Ukraine should enjoy the same cover from aerial attacks as Israel and pleaded
for more air defence systems.

"Here in Ukraine, in our part of Europe, unfortunately, we don't have the
level of defence that we saw recently in the Middle East," Zelensky said.

Zelensky was referring to the interception of Iran's drone and missile
barrage on Israel last Saturday.

"Our Ukrainian sky, the sky of our neighbors deserves the same level of

The Ukrainian president added: "All lives are equally valuable."

In Washington, Biden applauded the planned vote in Congress on the massive
new Ukraine aid package, scheduled for Saturday after months of political
wrangling, and called on American lawmakers to pass it.

"I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: 'We
stand with our friends, and we won't let Iran or Russia succeed'," he said in
a White House statement.

Chernigiv lies around 145 kilometres (90 miles) north of Ukraine's capital,
Kyiv, and had a pre-war population of around 285,000 people.

The city was badly damaged when Russian tanks swept into Ukraine from
Belarusian territory in February 2022 and besieged the city until April of
that year.


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