Russian missiles have hit residential buildings in Kyiv, wounding five people and burying others under rubble, in the first such attack on the Ukrainian capital in nearly three weeks.
A fire broke out in a nine-storey residential building that was partially damaged in the attack in the central Shevchenkivskiy district, the emergency services said on Sunday.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said several explosions were heard in the Shevchenkivsky district at approximately 6:30am (03:30 GMT) on Sunday.
“Ambulances and rescuers are onsite. In two buildings, the rescue and evacuation of residents is under way,” the mayor said. “Some of the inhabitants have been evacuated, two wounded people have been hospitalised.”
He added a seven-year-old girl was extracted from under the rubble and rescue workers were trying to save her mother. More people are thought to be trapped underneath the collapsed buildings.
Ukraine’s police chief, Ihor Klymenko, told national television that five people had been wounded. Police later said one person was killed.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the site of the attack, said a total of four missiles were dropped on the capital.
“One [injured] woman has been taken away with her husband,” Stratford said. “Her husband is not showing any signs of life.”
The Shevchenkivskiy historic district, one of Kyiv’s central neighbourhoods, is home to a cluster of universities, restaurants and art galleries.
Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s administration, wrote on Twitter that a missile had also damaged a kindergarten. No casualties have been reported.
Mayor Klitschko accused Russia of attacking the capital to “intimidate Ukrainians” ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid from June 28 to 30, where the transatlantic alliance is expected to discuss military and financial support to Ukraine.
Hours after Sunday’s attack, Britain announced it would join fellow G7 powers Canada, Japan and the United States in banning Russian gold exports to stop oligarchs from buying the precious metal to avoid sanctions on Moscow.
“It’s more of their barbarism,” Biden said, referring to the missile strikes, as leaders gathered for the summit in Germany.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is expected to address both the G7 and NATO gatherings, said cities as far away as Lviv, near the Polish border, had been attacked on Saturday.
“This confirms… that air defence systems – the modern systems which our partners have – should not be on (their current) sites or in storage, but in Ukraine,” he said in his daily address.
Russia takes control of Severodonetsk
There had been no major attacks on Kyiv since June 5, when Russia targeted a factory on the city’s outskirts and injured one person.
At the end of April, a Ukrainian journalist from Radio Liberty was killed in her apartment by a Russian attack on Kyiv during a visit by UN chief Antonio Guterres.
The attack on Sunday comes as Russian forces take over the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region, after taking control on Saturday of the charred ruins of Severodonetsk and the chemical plant where hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians have been holed up.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk province, said Ukrainian troops were staging a strategic retreat after weeks of bombardment in order to be redeployed to stronger defensive lines.
Russia launched dozens of missiles on targets across the country on Saturday. Some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.
Ukrainian legislator Oleksiy Goncharenko said on Telegram that Russia had fired 14 missiles at Kyiv and its region on Sunday morning.
Oleksiy Kulebam, governor of the Kyiv Oblast, said a missile was shot down in the region and its debris had fallen on a village.