Russian missile strikes have injured 10 people and left several unaccounted for in Donetsk, Ukrainian officials said, as attacks intensify in the embattled eastern region.
The overnight shelling hurt 10 people, including four children, in several villages in Donetsk, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Thursday.
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He said a family with two children, as well as two 13-year-olds, were among the injured.
“Five more people are being searched for under the rubble,” the minister added.
Later, Donetsk authorities said rescuers found one body while four others, including one child, were still under the rubble.
An apartment block, nine private houses, a police station, cars and garages were damaged in the villages of Pokrovsk, Novogrodivka and Myrnograd.
Klymenko said a police paramedic helped a man with an injured baby get out from under the rubble.
The attacks come as Russia steps up the fighting in Donetsk, of which it occupies most parts and says it intends to take over completely.
Some of the most intense fighting in recent weeks has been waged in the front-line town of Avdiivka.
On Wednesday, Russia said it had captured another contested village in the Donetsk region – Khromove – in what would be a rare advance after weeks of mostly gridlock.
Ukrainian officials offered no comment but said Moscow’s forces were suffering heavy losses while launching fierce attacks.
Unofficial accounts and bloggers acknowledged that part of the village was held by Russian forces, but dismissed any notion it was fully under Russian control.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said Russia’s attacks were growing more intense, with air strikes doubling and waves of up to 20 armoured vehicles pushing towards Ukrainian lines. However, he insisted Ukraine was repelling the assaults.
‘We have to continue’
Neither Russia nor Ukraine has made significant breakthroughs on the battlefield for weeks as Moscow’s invasion drags into the 22nd month. Ukraine, which has counted on aid and ammunition from Western allies, is pushing its backers to keep up the support amid funding delays from the United States and Europe.
“We have to continue, we have to keep fighting. Ukraine is not going to back down,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, said at a summit of NATO ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.
“The issue here is not just Ukraine’s security, it is the security and safety of the entire Euro-Atlantic space.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also attending the summit, confirmed NATO would back Ukraine for as long as it takes.
“The answer here today at NATO is clear and it’s unwavering. We must and we will continue to support Ukraine,” Blinken said.