Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at least 21 people have been killed in Russian strikes on Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Wednesday, as local authorities announced the introduction of a curfew in the main eponymous city.
“As of now, 21 people have been killed! 48 wounded!”, Zelenskyy said on Telegram. He said the shelling hit “a railway station and a crossing, a house, a hardware store, a grocery supermarket and a gas station”.
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Reporting from Kherson, Al Jazeera’s Tamer al-Samadi said the artillery strikes hit one of the few working superstores in the city, with victims including both staff and customers.
“The venue was shelled and as a result, the entire building was damaged,” al-Samadi said from the scene near dead bodies lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
There was no immediate comment by Russia.
The strikes came as Ukraine prepares for a spring offensive. The city of Kherson – from which Russian forces withdrew last November – is located near the front line in southern Ukraine.
Separately on Wednesday, officials announced that Kherson will be under curfew from 17:00 GMT on Friday until 03:00 GMT on Monday. Ukrainian authorities in the past have introduced similar measures to facilitate troop and arms movements.
“During these 58 hours, it is forbidden to move on the streets of the city. The city will also be closed for entry and exit,” the head of Kherson’s regional military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin, said on Telegram, advising residents to stock up on food and medicine.
Prokudin said residents could go for short walks near their houses or visit shops but should carry identity documents with them.
“Such temporary restrictions are necessary for the law enforcement officers to do their job and not put you in danger,” he wrote.
Kherson was captured by Russian troops in the first days of the February 2022 invasion and remained under Russian occupation until November 2022.
Russian forces at the time withdrew from the city, crossing to the eastern side of the Dnipro River, which now delineates part of the front line in southern Ukraine.
Also on Wednesday, Russia accused Ukraine of a failed attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in an overnight drone attack on the Kremlin citadel in the capital, Moscow. It said Putin was safe and threatened to retaliate.
Ukraine denied any role in the alleged incident and reported alerts for air raids over the capital, Kyiv, and other cities.