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12 Oct, 2023 17:46

Sputnik journalist’s infant child killed by Ukrainian drone

While producer Khaibar Akifi suffered severe injuries, his four-year-old daughter died in the attack
Sputnik journalist’s infant child killed by Ukrainian drone

The four-year-old child, and parents-in-law, of a Sputnik Afghanistan producer were killed in a Ukrainian attack on Russia’s Belgorod Region on Wednesday.

Khaibar Akifi and his wife Olesya were wounded in the attack, according to his employers in Moscow.

Their dead daughter has been named as Amina.

“Our staff member Khaibar Akifi, 29, was severely hurt in the strike and is in intensive care,” the head of the ‘Rossiya Segodnya’ media group, Dmitry Kiselyov, told RIA Novosti.

Akifi’s family lost three members in incident, Kiselyov said, calling it an “enormous tragedy.” His wife’s parents died in the strike as well.

The journalist is still “in critical condition,” the head of the Belgorod Region health department, Andrey Ikonnikov, said on Telegram on Thursday. Akifi’s condition is still “unstable,” he said, adding that medical personnel are “doing everything to save his life.” Earlier, the region's governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that Akifi had suffered burns to his respiratory tract, upper and lower extremities, and was in a coma.

The journalist’s wife Olesya, who is a philologist and a lecturer at Belgorod State Technical University, underwent surgery and is being treated in the regional hospital’s intensive care unit as well, Ikonnikov said, describing her condition as “stable.” Previously, Gladkov called her condition “severe,” adding that she suffered a lower limb fracture and a concussion.

RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, also commented on the incident, confirming Akifi’s identity and saying that the man had “worked throughout the weekend” as he was covering a massive earthquake that struck Afghanistan. After that, he took several days off to visit his wife’s parents living in the Belgorod Region. That was when the Ukrainian drone struck their home.

An impromptu memorial was set up at the site of the tragedy as the locals sought to pay their respects to the victims, RIA Novosti reported, publishing a video from the area. Footage shows bouquets of flowers and children’s toys laid near the destroyed family’s house.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported “destroying” an aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched by Ukrainian forces towards Belgorod Region. The initial report mentioned no casualties or damage on the ground.

According to the governor, the drone was intercepted en route to the regional capital. Its debris hit several residential buildings, causing a fire. Two houses were completely destroyed and another one was partly damaged.

Russia’s border regions, including the Belgorod Region, have frequently come under Ukrainian shelling, artillery, and drone strikes since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Such attacks have claimed numerous civilian lives.

Ukrainian forces have increased their attacks on Russian territory over the past several months, at the same time as a much-touted summer counteroffensive by their forces has failed to achieve major results.