Blast causes another train to derail in Russia near Ukraine

An explosion derailed another freight train in a Russian region near Ukraine, authorities say, adding there were no casualties.

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian service members from a 3rd separate assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, fire a howitzer D30 at a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine April 23, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo
The incidents come as Kyiv says it is preparing for a counteroffensive and after Ukraine’s military promised to keep defending the eastern city of Bakhmut [File: Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters]

An explosion derailed a freight train for the second day in a row in a Russian region bordering Ukraine, sending both the locomotive and some cars off the tracks, authorities said.

Tuesday’s incident occurred in the western Bryansk region, which borders both Ukraine and Belarus. Russian officials say pro-Ukrainian sabotage groups have made multiple attacks there since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“An unidentified explosive device went off near the Snezhetskaya railway station. There were no casualties,” Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on the messaging app Telegram.

“As a result of the incident, a locomotive and several wagons of a freight train derailed,” he added, without saying who was responsible.

Operator Russian Railways earlier said around 20 wagons had come off the track due to “unauthorised interference” but did not mention an explosive device. Snezhetskaya is just to the southeast of Bryansk.

The state operator said the incident took place at 7:47pm local time (16:47 GMT) between Snezhetskaya and the nearby village of Belye Berega.

A freight train derailed around 150km (93 miles) to the west of Bryansk on Monday after a blast. Pictures of that incident shared on social media showed several tank carriages lying on their sides and dark grey smoke billowing into the air.

There have been many reports of sabotage on railways in Russia since Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive, but this week is the first time officials confirmed attacks on this scale.

INTERACTIVE- Bryansk attack - March 2

The incidents come as Kyiv says it is preparing for a counteroffensive and after Ukraine’s military promised to keep defending the eastern city of Bakhmut.

“Together with the commanders, we have made a number of necessary decisions aimed at ensuring the effective defence and inflicting maximum losses on the enemy,” General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, said after visiting troops fighting in Bakhmut.

“We will continue, despite all the forecasts and advice, to hold Bakhmut, destroying Wagner [mercenaries] and other most combat-capable units of the Russian army,” he told soldiers.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that at least two people were killed in Pavlohrad, a Ukrainian city and railway hub in the east, in an overnight Russian missile attack.

The Ukrainian president also said he discussed his country’s integration into the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the speaker of the Parliament of Portugal, Augusto Santos Silva.

He stressed that these are the “primary needs of Ukrainian defenders” as Russia’s war in the country continues to rage.

Members of Ukraine’s Parliament voted on Tuesday to extend the country’s martial law, which will now continue until August 18.

Zelenskyy introduced the law in February last year when Russia invaded Ukraine. Under martial law, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country and may be called up for military service.

The measure was also accompanied by curfews that have now been reduced more than a year into the war.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies