SHELLING in the center of the Russian border city of Belgorod Saturday killed 21 people, including three children, local officials reported.
A further 110 people were wounded in the strike, said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, making it one of the deadliest attacks on Russian soil since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine 22 months ago.
Russian authorities accused Kyiv of carrying out the attack, which took place the day after an 18-hour aerial bombardment across Ukraine killed at least 41 civilians.
Images of Belgorod on social media showed burning cars and plumes of black smoke rising among damaged buildings as air raid sirens sounded.
One strike hit close to a public ice rink in the very heart of the city, which lies 40 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border and 670 kilometers south of Moscow. While previous attacks have hit the city, they have rarely taken place in daylight and have claimed fewer lives.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it identified the ammunition used in the strike as Czech-made Vampire rockets and Olkha missiles fitted with cluster-munition warheads. It provided no additional information, and The Associated Press was unable to verify its claims.
“This crime will not go unpunished,” the ministry said in a statement on social media.
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been briefed on the situation, and that the country’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, was ordered to join a delegation of medical personnel and rescue workers traveling to Belgorod from Moscow.
Russian diplomats have also called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in connection with the strike.