Russian shelling has killed seven people, including a 23-day-old infant, and wounded 20 others in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson, prompting local officials to declare a day of mourning.
Kyiv reclaimed part of Kherson from Russian occupation last November, but Kremlin troops have continued shelling the regional capital and areas around it from across the Dnipro River.
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A couple, their 23-day-old child and another man were killed in the village of Shyroka Balka, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Sunday. The couple’s 12-year-old son was critically wounded and died in hospital.
“The terrorists will never willingly stop killing civilians,” Klymenko wrote in a Telegram post. “The terrorists must be stopped. With force. They don’t understand anything else.”
Two people, including the pastor of a church, were killed in the neighbouring village of Stanislav, according to Governor Oleksandr Prokudin.
Three people each in Kherson city and the town of Beryslav were wounded, according to the interior ministry, and casualties were also reported in four other settlements across the region.
“Today the Kherson region shuddered from terrible news. Kherson, Veletenske, Zolota Balka, Stanislav, Komyshany, Shyroka Balka,” Prokudin wrote on Telegram, listing the settlements hit in Sunday’s attacks.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian military officials said on Saturday evening that Kyiv’s forces had made progress against Russian forces in southern Ukraine, claiming some success near a key village in the Zaporizhia region.
Ukraine’s General Staff said it had “partial success” around the tactically important Robotyne area in the Zaporizhia region, a key Russian stronghold that Ukraine would need to retake in order to continue pushing south towards Melitopol.
“There are liberated territories. The defence forces are working,” General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of Ukraine’s southern forces, said of the southern front.
Battles in recent weeks have taken place on multiple points along the more than 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) front line as Ukraine wages a counteroffensive with Western-supplied weapons and Western-trained troops against Russian forces who invaded nearly 18 months ago.
Ukrainian troops have made only incremental gains since launching the counteroffensive in early June.
In Russia, local officials reported on Sunday that air defence systems shot down three drones over the Belgorod region and one over the neighbouring Kursk region, both of which border Ukraine.
Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian border regions are not uncommon. Drone attacks deeper inside Russian territory have been on the rise since a drone was destroyed over the Kremlin in early May.
Cargo ship warned
Meanwhile, a Russian warship on Sunday fired warning shots at a Palau-flagged cargo ship in the southwestern Black Sea, the first time Russia has fired on a merchant ship beyond Ukraine since exiting a landmark United Nations-brokered grain deal last month.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Sukru Okan was heading northwards to the Ukrainian Danube River port of Izmail.
“The captain of the dry-cargo ship did not respond to the request to stop for inspection for the carriage of prohibited goods. To force the ship to stop, warning fire was opened from automatic small arms from a Russian warship,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence wrote on Telegram, adding that the ship later stopped and allowed an inspection team to board.
Four weeks ago, Moscow withdrew from a key export agreement that allowed Ukraine to ship millions of tonnes of grain across the Black Sea for sale on world markets.
In the wake of that withdrawal, Russia carried out repeated strikes on Ukrainian ports, including Odesa, and declared wide areas of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping.