At least one person was killed and a dozen others wounded when an apartment block in northern Kyiv was hit by what is believed to be artillery shelling as Russian forces edge closer to the heart of Ukraine’s capital.
“As of 7:40am (05:40 GMT) the body of one person was found dead in a nine-storey apartment building” in Kyiv’s Obolon district, the emergency service said in a statement on Monday, adding that three people had been hospitalised and nine were treated on the scene.
The attack destroyed apartments on several floors, damaging both the front and back sides of the residential structure. On one blackened balcony, two men could be seen throwing out destroyed furniture and debris. One of them planted a small Ukrainian flag on the ledge of the balcony.
“You can still smell the burning,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reported from the scene, saying that rescuers were still combing through the building to see if there were more bodies inside.
“Throughout the day, we have seen people come back here in tears, just looking at the building and their homes that have been completely destroyed,” added Khan.
“It’s a residential area. There’s a football pitch [very close to the building], there’s no military target anywhere here.”
The United Nations says at least 596 civilians have died since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, but it believes the real toll is considerably higher since it has not yet been able to corroborate reports from areas where intense hostilities are ongoing.
Russia denies targeting civilians, describing its actions as a “special operation” to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice.
Sepatately on Monday, city officials in Kyiv said two people were killed when an Antonov aircraft factory in the capital and a nearby residential building were targeted by Russian shelling.
Russian forces “shelled a residential building and the Antonov factory … According to a preliminary toll, two people are dead and seven wounded,” city hall said in a message on its Telegram account.
The statement could not be independently verified.
The alleged attacks came as Ukrainian and Russian officials were set to hold a fourth round of talks.
According to one of the Ukrainian negotiators, Mykhailo Podolyak, the virtual meeting would focus on achieving a ceasefire, troop withdrawals and security guarantees for Ukraine.
“Peace, an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russians troops – and only after this can we talk about regional relations and about political differences,” Podolyak said in a video statement posted to Twitter.
Meanwhile, Russian forces maintained their pressure on the Ukrainian capital as fighting continued in the nearby towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel.
In the southern port city of Mariupol, Russian troops also pushed closer to the city, where officials said nearly 2,200 people have been killed.