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Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claims control over Ukrainian city of Bakhmut

krainian soldiers fire a self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region.
krainian soldiers fire a self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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The Russian mercenary group Wagner claims to have taken control of Bakhmut's city hall and centre.

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The Russian mercenary group Wagner says it has taken control of Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut - a claim denied by the Ukrainian General Staff.

"In the legal sense, Bakhmut has been captured. The enemy is concentrated in the western areas," the group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Telegram.

"The commanders of the units that took over the city hall and the entire centre will go and raise this flag," Prigozhin said. "This is the private military company Wagner, these are the guys who took Bakhmut. From a legal point of view, it is ours," he claimed.

But Ukraine says its troops still have control of the city. 

"The enemy has not stopped its assault on Bakhmut. However, Ukrainian defenders are bravely holding the city, repelling numerous enemy attacks," the Ukrainian General Staff said on its Facebook page on Sunday evening.

"Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka remain in the centre of hostilities," it added in its Monday update.

"The enemy is not stopping its assaults on Bakhmut, trying to take complete control of it. Our soldiers have repelled more than 20 enemy attacks," he continued.

The battle for Bakhmut is the longest and bloodiest of the war. Over the past couple of months, the city has become the symbol of the fighting between Russians and Ukrainians for control over the Donbas region.

Meanwhile, Kyiv reported that Russian shelling killed six civilians on Sunday in Kostiantynivka, a small city in Donetsk province.

The Russian attack also damaged numerous residential buildings and wounded eight people, officials said.

In Russia-occupied Melitopol, the Moscow-installed local administration said a Ukrainian rocket attack on Sunday struck a locomotive depot and damaged an apartment building in the southern city, wounding six civilians.

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