Russian shelling has killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens at a market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka, officials said.
The number of dead in Wednesday’s attack was feared to rise.
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The assault came as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Ukraine’s capital, where he is expected to announce more than $1bn in new funding in a display of Washington’s unflagging support for Kyiv’s fight.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the attack, saying a market, shops and a pharmacy had been struck in the industrial city close to the battlefield, and about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the city of Bakhmut, where fighting has been heavy for months.
Ukrainian officials posted a video on the Telegram messaging app that showed a loud explosion ripping through shopping alleys, with people falling to the ground and some running for cover. Local media described it as a missile attack.
“This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible,” Zelenskyy said.
“When someone in the world still attempts to deal with anything Russian, it means turning a blind eye to this reality. The audacity of evil. The brazenness of wickedness. Utter inhumanity.”
He later told a press conference in Kyiv that he believed it had been a deliberate attack on “a peaceful city”.
“This is one more terrorist attack by the Russian Federation. They deliberately hit the market,” he said.
Meanwhile, interior Minister Ihor Klimenko said that in addition to the 16 killed, at least 28 people were wounded in the attack and said it was on the central city market.
Emergency service workers extinguished the fire that damaged about 30 pavilions at the outdoor market, he said.
Klimenko posted pictures on Telegram showing rescue workers sifting through the rubble and carrying out bodies in black sacks.
Wednesday’s strike followed a series of Russian attacks on cities in eastern Ukraine in which civilian infrastructure has been hit, including a popular cafe, a hotel and shops.
It also followed air strikes several hours earlier on Wednesday on Kyiv and the southern region of Odesa. No casualties were reported in the capital but local officials said one person was killed in the Odesa region.
Local prosecutors later put the number of wounded in Kostiantynivka at 31 and said 20 shops, power lines, an administrative building and a residential building had been damaged. Eight retail facilities were burned to the ground and cars were destroyed, they said.
Russia did not immediately comment on the attack, and has denied deliberately targeting civilians. The Kremlin had earlier on Wednesday said of Blinken’s visit that Moscow believed Washington planned to continue funding Ukraine’s military “to wage this war to the last Ukrainian”.