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UKRAINE: Russian strikes kill 26 including five children

RUSSIAN strikes battered cities across Ukraine on Friday, killing 26 people including five children, as Kyiv said preparations for a counter-offensive against Moscow’s forces were nearly complete.

The deadly new attacks included a strike on a residential block in the historic city of Uman in central Ukraine, where AFP journalists saw rescue workers extracting victims’ remains from a destroyed residential building.

The barrage of almost two dozen missiles overnight ended a weeks-long pause following the repeated Russian strikes that had aimed to paralyse Ukraine’s energy grid during the winter months.

On Friday evening, workers in Uman, the site of an annual Hasidic pilgrimage, pulled the body of another child from under the rubble. Authorities said Russian cruise missiles killed 23 people — including four children — in Uman.

“I want to see my children, they are under the rubble,” Dmitry, a 33-year-old local from Lugansk, an eastern city under Russian control, said earlier in the day.

Rescuers were using cranes to search for survivors among the remains of the multi-storey housing block in the central city of 80,000 inhabitants.

“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t lost my children before. Now I want to see my children alive or dead,” Dmitry said.

Russian missiles also hit the central city of Dnipro, already grief-stricken after a January strike on a tower block that killed more than 40 people.

Authorities said the strikes in Dnipro killed a 31-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter in their sleep.

The young woman’s parents were hospitalised.

“Neighbours say that it was a quiet and kind family,” regional authorities said.

Separately, authorities in the southern region of Kherson said on Friday evening that Russian forces shelled the village of Bilozerka, killing a 57-year-old woman and wounding another three.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the latest barrage and vowed a response.

“Only absolute evil can unleash such terror against Ukraine,” he said in his evening address.

His advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak tweeted: “If you don’t want THIS spread around the world, then give us weapons. Lots of weapons. And add sanctions.”

Moscow said it had targeted reserve units of the Ukrainian military and that “all assigned objects were hit.”

Moscow-installed officials in eastern Ukraine said that Ukrainian shelling had killed nine people, including an eight-year-old girl in the city of Donetsk.

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