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Child among three killed in attack on Mariupol hospital: Officials

Child among three killed in attack on Mariupol hospital: Officials

In this video grab from a handout footage taken and released by the the National Police of Ukraine on Mar 9, 2022, people are helped out of a damaged building of a children's hospital following a Russian air strike in the southeastern city of Mariupol. Handout / National Police of Ukraine / AFP

KYIV: At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack on Wednesday (Mar 9) on a children's hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, local officials said on Thursday.

"Three people were killed, including a female child, in yesterday's attack on a children's and maternity hospital in Ukraine's besieged Mariupol, according to updated figures this morning," the city council said on its Telegram channel.

Officials had previously given a toll of 17 injured, including doctors, in the attack.

"The Russian forces are destroying Mariupol's civilian population deliberately and without mercy," the city council said.

It says 1,200 inhabitants have been killed in nine days of the Russian siege.

The attack on the children's hospital, described by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "war crime", has triggered international indignation.

Save the Children's Eastern Europe Director, Irina Saghoyan, said in a statement on Thursday: "It's horrifying that a place people seek for help has become one of absolute and utter destruction.

"Where can families and children turn to if even hospitals are not safe? They must not become the battlefields where conflicts rage and innocent children are the casualties."

The United States condemned the bombing as "barbaric" after the strike buried patients under rubble despite a ceasefire agreement to allow people out of the besieged city.

The attack, which authorities said injured women in labour and left children in the wreckage, is the latest grim incident of the 14-day invasion, the biggest assault on a European state since 1945.

The destruction took place despite a Russian pledge to halt firing so at least some trapped civilians could escape the city, where hundreds of thousands have been sheltering without water or power for more than a week.

Ukraine's foreign ministry posted video footage of what it said was the hospital showing holes where windows should have been in a three-storey building. Huge piles of smouldering rubble littered the scene.

"It is horrifying to see the type of the barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack "depraved".

The UN Human Rights body said its monitoring mission was verifying the number of casualties.

"The incident adds to our deep concerns about the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas and civilians trapped in active hostilities in numerous areas," said spokesperson Liz Throssell.

Ukraine has accused Russia of breaking the ceasefire around the southern port.

"Indiscriminate shelling continues," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Satellite image company Maxar said images from earlier in the day showed extensive damage to homes, apartment buildings, grocery stores and shopping centres in Mariupol.

Russia's defence ministry has blamed Ukraine for the failure of the evacuation.

Moscow called reports of the hospital bombing "fake news",  saying the building was a former maternity hospital that had long been taken over by troops.

"That’s how fake news is born," Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Twitter.

Source: Agencies/yb

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