The Russian army bombed an art school sheltering several hundred people in the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, local authorities said on Sunday, adding that civilians were trapped under the rubble.
“Yesterday (Saturday), the Russian occupiers dropped bombs on the G12 art school (…) where 400 residents of Mariúpol – women, children and the elderly – had taken refuge,” declared the municipality of the port city besieged by Russian forces.
“We know that the building was destroyed and that peaceful people are still under the rubble. The number of victims is becoming clear,” he added in a statement on Telegram.
Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine with a population of 450,000 before the war, has been under heavy bombardment for several weeks by Russian forces and their pro-Russian separatist allies.
On Sunday, the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko, also accused Moscow of “forcibly deporting more than 1,000 residents of Mariupol” who live in the east of the city to Russia, without specifying when the events occurred.
According to him, Russian forces set up “filtering camps” where they “check the phones” of Mariupol residents before “confiscating their identity documents.” “Then they are sent to Russia,” he said on Facebook, adding that “their fate on the other side (of the border) is unknown.”
These statements could not be immediately independently verified.
On Thursday, Ukraine accused Moscow of bombing a city theater where hundreds of residents had taken refuge, ignoring the warning “Diéti” (“Children” in Russian) written on the ground in giant letters next to the building. . No casualty report yet.
According to the Ukrainian government, more than 2,100 people have been killed in Mariupol since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
The survivors take refuge in the basements, suffering multiple deficiencies. Some of the families who managed to flee said they saw bodies lying in the streets for days.
Inflicting “something like this on a peaceful city (…) is an act of terror that will be remembered even in the next century,” Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said on Sunday, denouncing a “war crime.”
The city is of strategic importance as its capture would allow Russia to unite its troops in Crimea with those in Donbas (east), while blocking Ukrainian access to the Sea of Azov.