Ukrainian shelling of refugee convoy leaves 24 dead – official
At least 24 people were killed and 36 wounded when Ukrainian forces struck a refugee convoy on Friday, Vladimir Rogov, a senior Russian-appointed official in Zaporozhye Region, has said.
Rogov wrote on Telegram that the attack targeted a convoy of cars that was traveling from Ukrainian-controlled territory to Zaporozhye Region, which declared independence from Kiev and was recognized as a separate state by Russia on Thursday.
“It happened at a car market on the Orekhovskoe highway where convoys are being formed to enter the region,” he wrote.
“24 people, including 11 men and 13 women were killed, 36 were wounded including a child,” the official said.
According to Rogov, the people, who were targeted, had protested and blocked roads earlier this week, demanding that Ukrainian authorities allow them to enter the Russian-held part of the region. “After that they were approached by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the police, who openly threatened them and said that they’ll be sorry for what they were doing,” he wrote.
The head of the administration accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of “trying to take revenge on the residents of Zaporozhye Region after they chose to join Russia during the referendum” by ordering the strike.
Rogov insisted the Ukrainian attack on the convoy was carried out with the aim of pinning the blame on Russia.
Kiev’s governor of Zaporozhye Region claimed that Russian forces were behind the shelling. While the head of a Ukrainian bomb disposal unit, police colonel Sergey Ujryumov told Reuters that the Russians “know that columns are formed here to go to the occupied territories… It’s not a coincidental strike. It’s perfectly deliberate.” According to Ujryumov, S-300 missiles were used in the attack on the convoy.
Voting on joining Russia ended in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions as well as in the two republics in Donbass on Monday, with residents in all territories overwhelmingly supporting the move. The official ceremony, in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign treaties on incorporating the new areas into the Russian state, is scheduled to take place in Moscow later on Friday.
A similar attack by Ukrainian forces happened in the eastern region of Kharkov on Thursday. At least 30 people, including children, were killed after a convoy of refugees, which tried to enter the People’s Republic of Lugansk, came under intense artillery bombardment, LPR authorities said.