Three teenagers among the dead after attack in eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian authorities have arrested a man they have accused of helping Russia direct a missile strike that killed at least 11 people, including three teenagers, at a popular pizza restaurant in eastern Ukraine.
The Tuesday evening attack on Kramatorsk wounded 61 other people, Ukraine's National Police said.
Two sisters, both aged 14, died in the attack, the city council's educational department said.
“Russian missiles stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels,” it said in a Telegram post.
The other dead teenager was 17, according to Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin.
The attack also damaged 18 multistory buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping center, an administrative building and a recreational building, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
Rescuers are still searching the rubble for bodies and more survivors in a city where last year, about six weeks after the start of war, 52 civilians were killed in a Russian missile strike on a train station.
Officials initially blamed the strike in Kramatorsk on an S-300 missile, a surface-to-air weapon that Russia’s forces have repurposed for loosely targeted strikes on cities, but the National Police later said Iskander short-range ballistic missiles were used.
Kramatorsk is a front-line city that houses the Ukrainian army’s regional headquarters. The pizza restaurant was frequented by journalists, aid workers and soldiers, as well as local residents.
The Security Service of Ukraine said the man it detained, an employee of a gas transportation company, is suspected of filming the restaurant for the Russians and informing them about its popularity.
It provided no evidence for its claim. Russia has insisted during the war that it doesn’t aim at civilian targets, although its air strikes have killed many civilians. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov repeated that claim on Wednesday.
Kramatorsk is in Donetsk, one of four Ukrainian provinces that Russia annexed last September but does not fully control. Russia has also occupied Crimea since 2015.
Ukrainian-held parts of the partially occupied provinces have been hit especially hard by Russian bombardment, and are a central point of dispute in the war. The Kremlin demands that Kyiv recognise the annexations, while Kyiv has ruled out any talks until Russian troops pull back from all occupied territories.