Russian missiles struck the busy city center of the east Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk and a nearby village on Tuesday, killing at least four people and injuring dozens, according to Ukrainian officials.
A 17-year-old girl was among those killed, and an eight-month-old baby was among the 42 injured, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said.
The attack quickly prompted accusations that Russian forces had targeted civilians.
“At the epicenter of the explosion were also apartment buildings, commercial premises, cars, a post office and other buildings, in which windows, glass and doors were blown out,” the Prosecutor General’s statement said, adding that rescue teams are still working to locate victims under the rubble.
Restaurants in the targeted plaza are popular with Kramatorsk residents and with the military; RIA Pizza, one of the establishments, is often frequented by soldiers and journalists.
An eyewitness to the aftermath of the strike in Kramatorsk city described up to a dozen people being pulled from the rubble. It was not clear if these people were dead or alive, the man told CNN teams on the ground.
A Ukrainian soldier assisting rescue efforts told CNN that the victims he saw were “mostly young people, military and civilians; there are small children.”
The soldier, who asked to be identified only by the call sign Alex, said there had been a banquet for 45 people at one of the restaurants when the strike occurred, and that it hit “right in the center of the cafe.”
The attack happened at around 7:30pm local time, Pavlo Kyrylenko, Head of Donetsk region military administration, said on Ukrainian state TV.
A second missile also struck the nearby village of Bilenke, according to Andriy Yermak, adviser to the Office of President Zelensky.
It comes during a potentially pivotal moment of the Ukraine war, as Russia’s security apparatus reckons with the continuing fallout of a short-lived insurrection by the Wagner mercenary group, and as Kyiv’s counteroffensive pushes forward.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strike on Kramatorsk “a manifestation of terror” in his nightly address on Tuesday and called for a tribunal to try alleged crimes.
Zelensky also noted his gratitude to US President Joe Biden for a new package of security assistance to Ukraine, worth up to $500 million.
This is a developing story.