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Ukraine war has killed over 5,000 civilians, says UN human rights office


A firefighter battles flames at the site of a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

A firefighter battles flames at the site of a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

A firefighter battles flames at the site of a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has claimed more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, adding that the real toll was likely much higher.

OHCHR, which has dozens of human rights monitors in the country, said in its weekly update that 5,024 people had been killed and 6,520 injured.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities said that their forces targeted a Russian ammunition depot in southern Ukraine overnight, resulting in a massive explosion captured on social media.

The Ukrainian military’s southern command said a rocket strike targeted the depot in Russian-held Nova Kakhovka, about 55km east of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, which is also occupied by Russian forces.

The precision of the strike suggested Ukrainian forces used US-supplied multiple-launch high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to hit the area.

Ukraine indicated in recent days that it might launch a counter-offensive to reclaim territory in the country’s south as Russia devotes resources to capturing all of the eastern Donbas region.

Russia’s Tass news agency offered a different account of the blast in Nova Kakhovka, saying a mineral fertiliser storage facility exploded and that a market, hospital and houses were damaged in the strike. Some of the ingredients in fertiliser can be used for ammunition.

A satellite photo taken yesterday and analysed by The Associated Press showed significant damage. A massive crater stood precisely where a large warehouse-like structure once stood in the city,

Ukraine now has eight HIMAR systems, a truck-mounted missile launcher with high accuracy, and Washington has promised to send another four.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian shelling over the past 24 hours killed at least 16 civilians and wounded 48 more, Ukraine’s presidential office said yesterday.

Cities and towns in five south-east regions came under Russian fire, the office said.

Nine civilians were killed and two more were wounded in Donetsk province, which makes up half of the Donbas.

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Russian rocket attacks targeted the cities of Sloviansk and Toretsk, where a kindergarten was hit, the presidential office said.

The British military said that Russia was continuing to make “small, incremental gains” in Donetsk.

The death toll from a Russian rocket attack that struck a Donetsk apartment building on Saturday rose to 38, Ukrainian officials said yesterday.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and its surrounding region, Russian strikes hit residential buildings, killing four civilians and wounding nine, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian authorities also said that Russian fire struck the southern city of Mykolaiv yesterday morning, hitting residential buildings and two medical facilities. Twelve people were reportedly wounded.

Meanwhile, air-raid sirens sounded yesterday in the western city of Lviv – the first daytime sirens there in over a week – and in other areas of Ukraine as Russian forces continued to make advances.

In eastern Luhansk, “fighting continues near the villages” on the administrative border with neighbouring Donetsk, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said. “The Russian army burns down everything in its way. The artillery barrage doesn’t stop and sometimes continues for four to six hours on end,” Mr Haidai said.

In other developments, the Kremlin said Russian president Vladimir Putin would visit Iran next week.

Putin will travel to Tehran next Tuesday to attend a trilateral meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, a format for Syria-related talks.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that Russia was seeking hundreds of surveillance drones from Iran, including weapons-capable ones, for use in Ukraine.

Russian and Turkish military representatives plan to meet in Istanbul today to discuss the transport of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

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