Russia bombed movie theatre sheltering 'over a thousand' civilians: Ukraine

Updated on Mar 17, 2022 10:18 AM IST

Mariupol theatre bombed: The city mayor indicated that many civilians had died in the attack on the Drama Theatre

This photo released by Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration Council on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 shows the Drama Theatre, damaged after shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration Council via AP)(AP)
This photo released by Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration Council on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 shows the Drama Theatre, damaged after shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration Council via AP)(AP)

Russian forces have bombed a movie theatre in Ukraine's Mariupol - in which more than a thousand civilians had sought shelter - the city council said Thursday in a post on messaging service Telegram. The Mariupol City Council said "the invaders destroyed the Drama Theatre. A place where more than a thousand people found refuge. We will never forgive this." Satellite images - taken three days earlier and shared by AFP - show the word 'children' written in Russian on the pavement in front of and behind the building.

There is no word yet on the number of casualties but photographs shared by AFP showed a half-destroyed building on fire and surrounded by debris.

Full coverage: Russia's war on Ukraine

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko called the attack a 'horrifying tragedy'.

"People were hiding there… some said they were lucky to survive, but unfortunately not all were lucky," he said, indicating there were deaths.

"The only word to describe what has happened today is genocide... genocide of our nation, our Ukrainian people. But I am confident that the day will come when our beautiful city of Mariupol will rise out of the ruins again."

Russia's defence ministry said the theatre was destroyed by Ukraine's nationalist Azov battalion, and claimed civilians had been held 'hostage' at the site.

Satellite image shows closer view of Mariupol Drama Theatre before bombing, as a word "children" in Russian is written in large white letters on the pavement in front of and behind the building. Picture taken March 14, 2022. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS(via REUTERS)
Satellite image shows closer view of Mariupol Drama Theatre before bombing, as a word "children" in Russian is written in large white letters on the pavement in front of and behind the building. Picture taken March 14, 2022. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS(via REUTERS)

Russia has laid siege to Mariupol over the past several days, encircling the city and launching wave after wave of attacks.

Ukraine authorities claim over 2,000 people have been killed in strikes on the city and tens of thousands are without running water or electricity.

READ: Mariupol mosque, housing over 80, bombed by Russia: Ukraine minister

Last week Ukraine accused Russia of bombing a maternity hospital in the city. Three people were killed and 17 - one a pregnant woman - were injured.

In this instance too Russia denied the attack and blamed 'nationalist battalions'.

Mariupol - a strategic target for its potential to link scattered Russian forces and cut off Ukrainian access to the Sea of Azov - had a population of about 500,000.

Human rights groups say the picture in Mariupol is still unclear.

READ: Russian offensive in Ukraine causes worsening health crisis

"Until we know more, we cannot rule out the possibility of a Ukrainian military target in the area of the theatre, but we do know it had been housing at least 500 civilians," Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

There were also reports of strikes on a children's hospital in Zhytomyr, a city near capital Kyiv, in which an unknown number of civilians were killed.

These attacks, in addition to claims that nearly 100 children have been killed so far, have added to global outrage against Russia president Vladimir Putin, who this week was branded a 'war criminal' by the United States.

The US has also promised $800 million in defence aid to Ukraine.

The International Court of Justice ruled 13-2 against Russia (only the Russian and Chinese judges voted for Moscow) and demanded it stop its attacks.

India's representative, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, voted against Russia.

A fifth round of peace talks was held Wednesday. The Kyiv Independent said a tentative plan had been reached. The deal will reportedly see Russia stand down if Kyiv renounces ambitions to join NATO and accept limits on its military.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 'NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine' but demanded guarantees to guard against future Moscow threats.

With input from AP, AFP, Reuters

Get Latest World Newsalong with Latest Newsfrom Indiaat Hindustan Times.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Chandrashekar is a Senior Editor at Hindustan Times. A journalist with 11+ years across print and digital media, he also has degrees in Sociology and Economics. He has worked in the political, business, sports, and entertainment news spaces, but is happiest just watching football.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, December 07, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals